Pueblo County School District 70 (D70), a public school district comprised of 21 schools serving 9,560 students in south central Colorado, recently made the decision to offset 100% of its electricity needs from Black Hills Energy with clean, solar energy. “It’s exciting to be the first school district in the state to employ this strategy, and I’m hopeful we are setting a positive example for the communities we serve and for other school districts,” says D70 chief financial officer T.J. Vinci.
Pueblo D70 will be sourcing 1.1 megawatts (MW), or 11,456 solar panels, from two of Clean Energy Collective’s RooflessSolar arrays, currently in development with Black Hills Energy located in Pueblo, CO. D70 will be saving money on its electricity costs, as well as setting an example to its students and public school districts around the state and nation for the importance of renewable energy.
Challenge: Fiscal Limitations
Being the lowest funded public school district in the state, D70 is continually searching for ways to reduce its operating expenses. Limited state funding coupled with the fact that they are the largest geographical school district in Colorado, meant that installing individual solar systems for each of their properties did not make financial or logistical sense.
As a school district, D70 has a responsibility to be fiscally savvy in order to provide the best resources to their students and staff. Thus, a large upfront capital allocation for a solar system was difficult for the school board to rationalize. Additionally, it would have been logistically onerous, if not impossible, to build separate solar arrays on all 21 school roofs. Every school poses its own unique challenges to a solar installation, such as roof space, roof shade and roof integrity, so an option to go solar for no upfront cost using an offsite community solar array immediately made sense to the D70 school board.
Solution: Saving money and allocating funds to students
RooflessSolar allows entities like Pueblo County School District 70 to save money on their electricity costs while participating in solar energy. Clean Energy Collective is building two RooflessSolar arrays in Pueblo – medium-scale solar projects which local residents and entities can subscribe to the renewable energy produced. RooflessSolar participants are able to access the benefits of locally-generated clean, solar energy and save money on their electricity costs.
D70 was looking for a way to save money and improve their bottom line, and found a solution that achieved that and more. RooflessSolar allows them to guard against rising electricity costs, save money, and be an environmental leader for their students and community. The school district subscribed to 1.1 MW of solar energy. Through this strategy, D70 will recognize nearly $35,000 in utility cost savings in the first year, and $2,025,139 over the life of the program.
“When this opportunity was presented to us by Black Hills Energy and Clean Energy Collective, we thought that this was the kind of example we should be setting as a board and as a district for our students and parents. This program is the perfect mix of economic responsibility and benefit blended with supporting sustainable and renewable energy sources,” said D70 school board chairman Ted Ortiviz.
With RooflessSolar, Pueblo D70 will be saving money, allowing the school district to have more funds to allocate where it is needed most – investing in the highest quality education possible for its students.
- Total Panels: 11,456
- System Size: 1.16 Megawatts
- Lifetime Savings: $2,025,139
- Product: RooflessSolar
- Avoided CO2 output: 78,106,620 lbs.
- Equivalent vehicle miles saved: 88,564,964
- Equivalent number of trees planted: 120,470