Indianapolis Public Schools is planning a solar energy project that is estimated to save the district $45 million over the next 30 years. The IPS Board of School Commissioners on Thursday approved an agreement with Carmel-based Sun FundED to develop, finance and operate solar energy systems for the district under the firm’s “Solar-as-a-Service” program.
If approved and installed as planned, the district says the project would be the largest solar energy project by an educational institution in the state’s history. The district says the project will also cut carbon emissions and boost sustainability efforts.
“Research has consistently shown that solar projects can reduce air pollution and CO2 emissions, and significantly reduce energy costs,” said Dr. Aleesia Johnson, IPS superintendent. “Under this new partnership, IPS will install solar panels at multiple schools and locations across the district, enabling our schools to utilize clean energy while at the same time reducing the district’s carbon footprint.”
The project’s plans include both roof- and land-based solar installations at 20 schools. Based on the first 20 buildings, the district estimates that first-year savings would be more than $120,000.
An IPS spokesman tells our partners at the IBJ the first solar panels would be installed within 12 to 18 months, but it’s not clear when the first set of 20 would begin operation.
Weston Young, the district’s chief financial officer, said the project will cut costs in the first year with no debt.
“‘Solar-as-a-service’ represents a fixed-fee structure that stabilizes and makes budgeting more predictable for schools while creating a long-term hedge against cost-plus inflation,” said Young.
The district says project locations, size and system output will be finalized during the project’s development phase.