Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week that the New Yorks’s first solar schools project will be hosted by the New York Institute for Special Education (NYISE) in the Bronx. A purchase agreement with SolarCity will facilitate the installation of a solar array that will supplement the school’s energy needs, lower operating costs, decrease carbon emissions that contribute to climate change, and offer unique educational opportunities for the state’s kids.
This marks the next phase of the governor’s statewide K-Solar program, which is part of the $1 billion NY-Sun Initiative. The effort is designed to help schools cut costs while simultaneously helping New York reach its 2030 goal of supplying 50 percent of electricity from renewable sources. NYISE is the first of many schools that will go through the K-Solar program. To date, school districts in 59 of the state’s 62 counties have registered with K-Solar since the program was announced in late 2014.
“Through the K-Solar program, the state is enabling schools to create greener communities and reduce energy bills by taking advantage of cost-effective solar power,” said Cuomo. “As schools begin to realize the utility savings to be had through this program, they can begin to put those dollars back in the classroom where they belong.”
K-Solar calls for schools to sign an 18-year agreement with a solar developer like SunEdison or SolarCity to buy the electricity generated by the solar panels, which are installed at no upfront cost to the school systems. New York Power Authority will provide free technical assistance to schools in the program,
Project supporters acknowledge that solar panels in schools also provide an educational opportunity. “Having solar panels and other technologies associated with K-Solar in our schools provides an interactive learning experience with renewable energy,” said New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia in a statement. “K-Solar helps to spark innovative problem-solving and provides teachers with the opportunity to teach concepts in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to pique student interest in these critical subjects.”