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National Report Finds Arizona Ranks Third In Public School Solar Use

PHOTO: In terms of solar energy powering public schools, a new study ranks Arizona third in the U.S. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Energy.
PHOTO: In terms of solar energy powering public schools, a new study ranks Arizona third in the U.S. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Energy.
September 23, 2014

TEMPE, Ariz. - A new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association titled Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools, finds Arizona ranked third in the nation in terms of solar energy use in public schools.

Steven Church, energy education coordinator at Tempe Elementary School District Three, says using solar as an energy source is a valuable teaching tool for students, and saves some money.

"The kids can monitor on a video monitor how much the solar's producing," he says. "On a cloudy day they could see it's producing less. On a sunny day it's producing more. In the winter when days are shorter, it produces less, and in the summertime when days are longer it produces more."

The report concludes that 226 public schools in Arizona have some type of solar unit. The research also shows solar savings in the Grand Canyon State amount to more than $9 million per year.

Church says schools using solar in Tempe Elementary School District Three are saving at least 10 percent on their energy bill, and he adds solar can account for nearly half of all energy being used in some school buildings. Beyond using renewable energy in schools, Church says the city of Tempe has a culture centered on sustainability.

"We're reducing our carbon footprint by recycling our cardboard," he says. "We recycle as much of the classroom trash as we can. We recycle stuff from the cafeteria. It's all part of the culture of Tempe to be sustainable like that."

The Solar Energy Industries Association study ranks California and New Jersey first and second in the U.S. for solar energy use in public schools. Nevada and Massachusetts round out the top five states.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - AZ