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Additional solar projects capture savings, educational opportunity

Aerial view of Kuhlman stadium with water tower in foreground.
Additional solar projects capture savings, educational opportunity

Edina Public Schools has 1,684 more reasons to smile on sunny days. That’s the number of solar panels installed at three District sites over the past two months. Combined with the 81-panel array placed atop the Transportation Services facility a year ago, the District expects to dramatically increase its savings in electricity costs -- savings that will continue to increase over time.

Having the right location and the right roof conditions are key to accommodating an effective solar array. The newly constructed bus garage was a logical choice last fall for the Phase 1 installation. Now, 648 panels have been added to the roof, which has sun exposure all day, barring clouds.

A roof replacement project at Cornelia Elementary meant that the timing and conditions were right for an installation there, too. The array of 1,028 panels went live Sept. 16. And at EHS, an educational array of eight panels has been installed following fundraising by the student-led Project Earth club. Electricity generated by the array will feed into the Project Lead the Way lab, providing real-life educational opportunities.

Eric Hamilton, EPS director of Buildings and Grounds, credits the collaboration of many for the success of the projects. Brad Johanson, an electrical expert with the District’s construction partners, Wold Architects and Engineers, along with the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, and Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) and its Solar Possible program were all instrumental in helping the district navigate the bidding and vendor selection process.

Through a joint RFP process with state agencies, local governments and school districts within the Xcel Energy service area, Solar Possible eliminated initial costs to the district. The process resulted in the selection of SolarPod, a Minnesota-based renewable energy and engineering consulting company. “It took a lot of planning and teamwork to get this right,” Hamilton said. “We are pleased and excited about the results.” The district will begin to realize immediate savings from the solar panel installations, and the savings will continue to grow.

The EPS solar installation project is featured on the CERTs web site.  Read more about the projects, the solar product and how it all came together.