Frontier Group


It’s Time for Schools to “Go Solar”

Our new report Solar Schools for Philadelphia found environmental and economic benefits for putting solar panels on Philadelphia schools. So if solar panels make economic sense for Philadelphia, shouldn’t they make sense just about everywhere? 

Gideon Weissman

Former Policy Analyst, Frontier Group

Last week we released Solar Schools for Philadelphia, analyzing the economic and environmental benefits of putting solar panels on public school rooftops across Philadelphia.

We found by putting solar panels on their 100 acres of available rooftop space, Philadelphia schools can reduce global warming pollution equivalent to taking 14,000 cars off the road, while supplying local jobs and creating learning opportunities for students. This district-wide rooftop solar energy system would also save taxpayers $13 million (in terms of net present value), after accounting for the millions of dollars’ worth of electricity the system would generate each year.

So if solar panels make economic sense for Philadelphia, shouldn’t they make sense just about everywhere? In fact, schools across the country are already making that case. A 2014 study by SEIA and The Solar Foundation found that nearly 4,000 schools across the country had already “gone solar.”

Many of these schools have demonstrated significant cost savings. In 2012, for example, the Boulder Valley School District agreed to a power purchase agreement under which, for no upfront capital costs, the school system would install 1.4 megawatts of solar panels on 14 schools, reducing those schools’ electricity bills by about 10% per year over the agreement. [pdf, page 45]

To prevent the worst impacts of global warming, the United States must transition to an energy system powered by clean, renewable energy – but enormous social and political barriers still stand in the way. What better institutions to help break through those barriers than schools, whose students are those with the most to lose from global warming? By “going solar,” schools in Philadelphia and elsewhere can help move America toward a future of clean, renewable energy – and do it while fulfilling their responsibility to their students and to taxpayers. 

Image: Jenne Turner, Public Interest GRFX


Gideon Weissman

Former Policy Analyst, Frontier Group