Solar power is coming to five schools in Newport News

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Screenshot of Sun Tribe Solar's proposal to add solar panels to five public schools, including Discovery STEM Academy pictured above, in Newport News. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Sun Tribe Solar)
Screenshot of Sun Tribe Solar’s proposal to add solar panels to five public schools, including Discovery STEM Academy pictured above, in Newport News. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Sun Tribe Solar)

NEWPORT NEWS — The city’s public school system has partnered with Sun Tribe Solar to add solar power panels at five schools.

Installation starts in 2020.

“They have been looking at ways to save energy costs,” said Michelle Price, spokeswoman for Newport News Public Schools, referring to the school district.

The five schools — Discovery STEM Academy, Gatewood PEEP-Warwick High Senior Center, Heritage High School, Lee Hall Elementary School and Yates Elementary School — were selected for the program because the schools need to be able to sustain additional panels, Price said.

“We have to make sure it’s a fairly new roof and is still under warranty,” Price said, noting Discovery STEM Academy is the newest school and Heritage High School just had its roof redone.

The partnership with Sun Tribe Solar is just one of the many energy efficient upgrades the district has implemented in its schools. The upgrades include energy efficient windows, installation of LED lighting and sensor lighting at night as well as adding tankless on-demand water heaters, Price said.

As part of the power purchase agreement, grand or roof solar power panels will be installed by Sun Tribe and the school district will be responsible for the energy costs.

The new solar panels will provide 100 percent of the electricity needed to power the schools, according to the Newport News Public Schools news release.

Each kilowatt hour costs 9 cents which means in the first year, the school district will pay approximately $248,548, according to Sun Tribe Solar’s cost predictions chart which spans over the next 30 years. See the full pdf presentation here.

The school district is expected to save $4 million in electricity costs and expects to add more schools to the program in the future.

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