Several Illinois elementary schools are getting on board with the state’s Adjustable Block Program and are moving forward with #solar panel projects. Illinois introduced The Adjustable Block Program as part of the Future #Energy Jobs Act in 2017. The Adjustable Block Program primarily supports the construction and distribution of solar energy for rooftop solar and other community solar and renewable energy projects in the state. In Troy, Illinois, the Triad School District is jumping into action and starting to take advantage of the program for economic, financial, and even educational purposes.
A “Win-Win” Opportunity
Jason Henderson, Assistant Superintendent for the Triad School District, said in an interview that the addition of solar panels to four of their schools within the district is a “win-win.” Not only are solar panels a great addition to the school in terms of cost-effectiveness, but they also provide a fantastic opportunity to teach and educate students about solar energy and how the panels themselves operate.
Two of the school within the district, St. Jacob Elementary and Marine will receive ground solar panels that will offset the schools’ energy costs by up to 90 percent. The other two schools in the district, Silver Creek and Henning Elementary, will receive rooftop solar panels that will save energy costs by 50 to 60 percent. It is predicted that the saving for the school district over a 25 span, thanks to the installation of ground and rooftop panels, will fall anywhere between 1 million and 1.6 million dollars.
Focus on Educating Students About Solar
Much of Henderson’s focus is on the educational opportunity the solar panels will offer the student body. It makes sense to include education as part of the plans to bring solar power to the district. Students within the Triad School District who are fortunate enough to have campuses with solar power on-site will have a unique opportunity to see and learn about solar power as part of their classroom curriculum. This will put this particular pool of students in Illinois ahead of their peers in terms of knowledge about solar power, potentially incentivizing other schools and school districts in the state to follow similar ground and rooftop solar construction for their own campuses.
Urgency to Utilize Solar Energy Illinois
The Triad School District is just one small conglomerate in Illinois that is implementing solar energy into their everyday operations. Since the Future Energy Jobs Act was created, organizations and businesses all across Illinois are rushing to meet the solar and renewable energy requirements and deadlines of the Act. The primary goal of The Future Energy Jobs Act is to have 25 percent of Illinois’ electricity come from solar energy and other renewable energy sources by the year 2025. Other goals include taking steps to strengthen Illinois’ power grid, work to bring costs down and maintain low costs long-term for solar energy consumers, increase solar energy related job growth across the state, and to take all necessary provisions to ensure environmental protection and integrity.
Illinois’ Adjustable Block Program
In order to fund the project for the Triad School District ground and rooftop solar panels, the Adjustable Block Program will assist financially through the use of Renewable Energy Credits. These credits are offered initially at a set price under 15-year contracts. As the market responds to changing solar energy needs or adjustments need to be made based on individual project responses, the Adjustable Block program allows for a flexible, or adjustable, budgets as solar energy projects progress. According to the Illinois Power Agency, the organization that oversees the Adjustable Block Program and adjustments for solar energy credits, their goal is to create the greatest level of energy output at the lowest possible cost.
Henderson stated that they intend to move forward with even more solar energy projects for the school district if it is financially feasible. As interest grows in solar panel installations for companies and organization in Illinois, the solar credits offered will be chosen on a lottery system. Other school districts in the area have already started showing greater interest in placing solar power panels on their campuses, including Clinton County and Bellville. Applications for rebates on solar projects are due early next year and it is not yet clear just how many other districts may be applying.