Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Solar's savings not adding up for some NJ schools

Solar energy panels being installed on school roof

In recent years, it seems that every press release announcing a school district's decision to invest in solar energy contained the same message: By opting to install solar panels on its buildings or land, the district was not only investing in an environmentally green future but also would reap a nice green return in energy cost savings.

Initially, that was true. The Lawrence school district approved the installation of solar panels in 2008 and, in a one-year period, made more than $1 million.

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But Bordentown regional high school officials recently learned that,
instead of paying for themselves, the solar panels they installed, following an $8.5 million bond referendum in 2009, are not paying dividends. Instead, they've become a liability and now account for about 20 percent of what the district spends on paying off its accumulated debt. 

What happened?  In a story in yesterday's Trenton Times, writer Alyssa Mease explains that it all involves the shrinking value of solar renewable energy credits, or SRECs. 
Solar panels used by some school districts prove to be more costly than first thought

Related environmental news stories:
NJ landfills, brownfields emerge as new frontier for solar farms - The Star-Ledger
West Amwell postpones decision on solar field to June - Hunterdon County Democrat
Solar project opponents gain environmental allies in Bedminster - New Jersey Hills
Princeton University reduces carbon dioxide emissions despite growth 

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