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Dubuque school district leaders to implement solar panel program to reduce energy costs

School officials say saved money could go towards bettering student instruction.
The Dubuque School District will be installing more than 200 solar panels on the roof of a local elementary school in an attempt to reduce energy costs.
Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 10:39 PM CST
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - The Dubuque Community School District will be installing more than 200 solar panels on the roof of a local elementary school in an attempt to reduce energy costs. District leaders say the project will eventually pay for itself, and then save money overall with reduced energy costs.

The district has been looking into the idea of saving energy costs through solar panels for years. In fact, district leaders started a pilot program back in the 2019-2020 school year in one of the district’s buildings.

Kevin Kelleher, the district’s chief financial officer, said, through installing solar panels and LED lights on a district building, the district were able to save around $900 a month on energy. He said, for that reason, they decided to expand the project to school buildings.

They will start with elementary schools, specifically Sageville Elementary, because they are smaller buildings.

”We are hoping it will create savings in the general fund, which can be used for instruction, so whether it is half a teacher, supplies, curriculum,” Kelleher mentioned. “That is the real intent, it is to take the utility savings and be able to spend it for student instruction.”

The project itself will cost the district about $350,000. Kelleher said they expect to save around $30,000 a year once they install the panels. The panels should be up on Sageville’s roof during the spring of 2023.

Kelleher said they will see how the program works at Sageville before determining whether it makes sense to install the panels on any other school.

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