Eastern Mennonite School (EMS) has signed an agreement with Secure Futures Solar of Staunton, Virginia to install and operate solar panels on its Harrisonburg campus. The school’s solar arrays will generate a total capacity of 136 kW.
The solar panels at EMS will offset nearly a third of the electricity used by the school’s facilities while generating enough clean energy to run the equivalent of 15 average homes. The system is slated for completion by Fall 2020.
In addition to the planned solar panels, Secure Futures provides lesson plans and materials created by National Energy Education Development (NEED) for hands-on instruction and learning the importance of clean energy at no extra cost.
“We are thrilled to be able to get this project up and running,” said Paul Leaman, head of school for EMS. “Young people need to see and experience the power and economics of renewable energies so they can become change agents away from the pollutants and nonrenewable fossil fuels.”
Eastern Mennonite School will receive solar energy equipment at no upfront capital cost through a 20-year “Solar Self Generation Agreement” with Secure Futures. Over that term, the company will operate and maintain the solar energy system, providing services and support for EMS to generate electricity at a cost lower than typically available from its utility power provider, Harrisonburg Electric Commission.
“Eastern Mennonite School is stepping up as the leader among K-12 schools in Harrisonburg,” said Anthony Smith, CEO and founder of Secure Futures. “Their intention to save money, help the environment, integrate rooftop solar lessons into the classroom and engage with the community demonstrates how schools can harness solar power to support their mission and save resources.”
In 2010, Eastern Mennonite University installed 104 kW worth of solar panels on the school’s Hartzler Library, at the time, the largest solar installation in Virginia. Then, in 2019, the Mennonite-run Gift and Thrift store became the first solar customer in Virginia to install its solar system through a “solar barn-raising.”
Adapting the rural tradition of cooperative construction of farm buildings to installing a solar array, two dozen community volunteers came together with experienced solar installers to put up 107 kW of solar panels at the store’s location on Mount Clinton Pike. Both projects were developed and financed by Secure Futures.
“Harrisonburg was the first city in Virginia to surpass 1% solar capacity (from net metering) on their local grid,” said Jeff Heie, a clean energy activist in Harrisonburg for the last decade. “This milestone occurred in December of 2019.”
EMS will install its solar panels in mid-August. Preparation work for the installation was completed in June. Gott Electric completed the electrical grid for the project.
News item from Secure Futures