Planet Earth

published : 2023-12-02

West Virginia School District Makes Historic Switch to Solar Power

The WV solar project is expected to save the school system $6.5 million over a 25-year period

A photograph of the Zela Elementary School in Wayne County, West Virginia, taken with a Nikon D850.

In a landmark agreement, an entire county school system in coal-producing West Virginia is making the transition to solar power, marking the biggest-ever demonstration of sun-powered renewable electricity in Appalachian public schools.

The Wayne County Schools have partnered with West Virginian solar installer and developer Solar Holler to install 1,400 solar panels, creating the largest solar energy system in the state.

This initiative is made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act, championed by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin as the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

A stunning aerial shot of the Wayne County Schools with their newly installed solar panels, captured with a Canon EOS R.

Sen. Manchin, who played a major role in shaping the Act, touts President Joe Biden's landmark climate, health, and tax law, which emphasizes the creation of clean energy jobs.

Wayne County Schools Superintendent Todd Alexander expects the solar project to save the school system $6.5 million over the course of the 25-year agreement, equivalent to the salaries of three additional teachers throughout their careers.

The project, set to be completed in 2025, represents the largest power purchase agreement ever signed in West Virginia, signaling a significant shift towards renewable energy in a historically fossil fuel-dependent state.

A close-up image of a group of Wayne County students learning about solar energy in their classroom, photographed using a Sony A7 III.

By taking this renewable energy approach, the schools are not only reducing costs but also making a commitment to their students and the community.

This project is a testament to the state's dedication to maintaining its legacy of energy production while embracing a cleaner model for the future.

With up to 10,000 solar panels expected to deliver 5.33 Megawatts of power annually, Wayne County Schools are paving the way for a greener and more sustainable education system.