A small school district in Firebaugh, California announced Thursday that is will once again teach music to its students. The Firebaugh-Las Deltas School District was one of three school districts in the area that decided to install solar panels to save on their electric bill. The savings will be large enough they were able to restore their music program which had been eliminated due to budget cuts.
Firebaugh, California is a small town in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley west of Fresno.
The Firebaugh project was developed by SolarCity, the same solar energy company that installed 5,000 solar panels on 14 schools in Boulder, Colorado this month. In both cases, SolarCity furnished the panels at no cost to the school district in exchange for a Power Purchase Agreement.
SolarCity installed solar systems at Firebaugh High School, Middle School, and Hazel Bailey Elementary. They will allow the district to pay less for clean solar power than it would for fossil fuel utility power. The district is expected to save more than $900,000 in the systems’ first five years of operation, several million over the life of the system.
“Solar energy projects for public schools are essentially revenue enhancements for school districts which directly benefit the students and taxpayers,” said Russell Freitas, Superintendent of Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified School District. “During these past ten years, school districts have experienced the most difficult financial times and because of the savings this solar project has created, we are able to bring music instruction back to the District.”
In 2009 Firebaugh-Las Deltas had had to eliminate music instruction for grades six through twelve due to a lack of money. Now we have been able to bring it back for fourth through twelfth graders in the 2012-13 school year. The district’s music program includes keyboard classes, choir, drama production, band, drum instruction and performance at football and basketball games.
“School districts across the country are pursuing ways to allocate as much of their budgets as possible to what matters most: the education of their communities’ children,” said Dennis Cox, Regional Vice President at SolarCity. “Firebaugh-Las Deltas is at the forefront of the movement to go solar and save money while doing right by the planet that their students will inherit.”
SolarCity has completed or undertaken more than 200 solar projects for schools, community colleges and universities across the country. The company employs more than 70 people in its Fresno office, which has installed more than 1,000 projects in California’s Central Valley area.
The solar projects will provide students with firsthand demonstrations of how solar technology works, and of solar energy’s benefits. The schools will have access to SolarCity’s web-based monitoring which will display real-time on-site energy production. Hopefully the kids will educate their parents about the importance of renewable energy particularly solar energy.
There are thousands of school districts in the United States, and most are experiencing budget cuts. Solar energy could save these districts money on their utility bills, and perhaps they could use the savings like the Firebaugh-Las Deltas District to enhance the educational experience for its students. In addition, they could remove thousands of tons of carbon pollution from our atmosphere.
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