Could Solar Energy Be An Economic Driver For Sarasota Schools?

by | Mar 22, 2011 | Culture, Education, Environment, Green Living, Sustainable Sarasota

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Saw this article in the Herald-Tribune by Christopher O’Donnell and thought we’d pass it along. It is an interesting notion…what if Sarasota used what it has in greatest abundance—sunshine—as currency to pay for local needs? Could be a way to use the economic downturn to our advantage in the long-term…

Sarasota schools want to make money from the sun

Sarasota County school rooftops could double as power stations and a new revenue source under a deal the district recently signed with Florida Power & Light to put solar panels on schools and other district buildings.

FPL wants to survey which school rooftops can accommodate solar panels, then lease the space and install solar panels and a convertor. Power generated would go back into the electric grid.

District officials say it’s too soon to know how much the deal might be worth.

The expansion of FPL’s solar generating capacity would first have to be approved by legislators. But if approved, Sarasota would be one of the first districts in the state to use solar power to raise revenue. FPL officials are in talks with other school districts but have no similar deals in place.

“Our goal is to have as many roofs in the district qualify,” said Jody Dumas, district director of facility services. “The more we can lease roof space back to FPL, the more we generate revenue for the district.

Manatee County School Superintendent Tim McGonegal said if the Sarasota lease goes ahead, Manatee officials will see if they can get a similar deal.

FPL has constructed and commissioned three solar power plants that, combined, produce 110 megawatts of energy for 4.5 million customers throughout Florida.

That includes a 25-megawatt solar array in Arcadia with 90,500 solar panels. The company plans to add solar arrays at an existing power plant in Parrish on State Road 62.

“If renewable legislation is passed, projects like these could be a nice compliment to the larger utility-scale solar plants we also plan to pursue,” said FPL spokeswoman Jackie Anderson. keep reading at