Rural School Buys Solar Panels And Raises Teachers Wages With Energy Savings

A school in rural Arkansas made the important switch to renewable energy. She covered a field with solar panels to power her school district and saved a ton of money in the process.

The Batesville school decided to go one step further and used its impressive savings on utility bills to add up to $ 15,000 each to its teachers’ salaries. This may have been the first time that renewable energy savings were translated directly into pay increases.

Not only the field of solar collectors, of which almost 1,500 are now supplied with electricity in the school district, but also the remaining electricity can be fed back into the power grid to supply the local area with electricity. Before it was installed, the district’s utility bills exceeded $ 600,000 a year, placing the area in a difficult financial position.

The teachers were poorly paid, many of whom were forced to leave. The constant turnover of teachers responsible for 3,200 students in 6 institutions made it difficult to run the district.

An audit found that installing modern energy infrastructure, including a range of solar panels, could save $ 2.4 million over the next 20 years to solve their financial problems while reducing the area’s carbon footprint.

In 2017, an unused field was turned into a landscape of solar panels, and recently the front of the high school received modules as well.

Because of their reduced energy savings and energy generation, the extra income going directly to teachers has seen Batesville quickly rise from one of the lowest median salaries in the county to one of the best, reports CBS News.

When asked if the teachers knew anything about the new initiative, Jeanne Roepcke, one of the teachers who had received a raise, said:

“Nah. No, that wouldn’t have been one of the things I was thinking of. But what a great idea. The sun will be shining anyway, so why not benefit from it?”

Jeanne is right – renewable energies are now the cheapest that ever existed. The US is investing heavily in renewable energies. 11.4% of the total energy production comes from wind, sun and other areas. The prices for the installation of solar energy and wind turbines have fallen sharply in recent years. The average cost per watt for solar panels is currently between $ 2.50 and $ 3.50, an 82% decrease over the past decade.

The move to renewable energy has certainly started, and many areas are likely to follow Batesville to reduce both costs and carbon footprint. Even large companies do without fossil fuels. The automobile manufacturer Audi recently announced that it would give up the development of the internal combustion engine.

[H/T: CBS News]

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