I would like to bring to your attention that there’s an obvious way the [Austin Independent School District] can begin to save hundreds of thousands of dollars, and likely even more, with money that is already at their disposal: Use in-hand bond money to install solar panels on school roofs. [See "AISD: Thinking Outside the Schoolhouse
," News, July 20, for more about the AISD budget.]
In 2013, Austin voters approved $20 million for energy efficiency as part of Proposition 1. Half of this money was allocated for installing solar panels on the roofs of Austin public schools. However, most of this money has yet to be touched.
Four schools that did install solar panels are now saving $83,727 on their electricity bill each year. These savings are in addition to the Austin Energy’s Performance Based Incentive program, which would issue compensation of $398,411.90 within 10 years to AISD. The district could shave off a million dollars from their electricity bill each year if they just leveraged this available bond money.
With solar panels now on 44 of our schools, AISD is a national leader in developing a sustainable future. Solar schools are helping AISD to save money, curb emissions that contribute to global warming, and improve public health through reduced air pollution. The benefits of solar also extend to the classroom: Solar energy principles can serve as valuable learning opportunities that connect traditional classroom learning with hands-on, state-of-the-art technology.
By simply committing to solar on 100% of our schools, we can simultaneously provide healthier living conditions for our communities and help the growing budget deficit.