A new project between Richland County School District One and Schneider Electric is projected to reduce the district’s energy bill by nearly 73% when completed next year.
The two-phase project will add solar arrays to the roofs of 15 district campuses and guarantee Richland One nearly $57 million in energy savings during the next 20 years as the district aims to achieve net zero energy consumption, according to a news release.
A net metering program will allow the solar panels to general renewable energy, reducing operational costs and providing financial credits to the district from its utility, Dominion Energy, for excess power generated but not consumed.
“School buildings with legacy equipment were a drain on energy and budgets,” Justin Shutt, business development manager for Schneider Electric, said in the release. “We’re pleased to help Richland One truly transform its infrastructure in a way that not only helps achieve their sustainability goals but also drastically cuts energy costs to free up millions of dollars for other district priorities.”
The solar project is part of a district-wide infrastructure modernization project started in 2020 to upgrade HVAC systems and improve air quality. Savings and revenue will fund improvements across Richland One campuses and make the district less reliant on taxes for school upkeep and maintenance, according to the release.
The infrastructure project also generated new science, engineering, technology and math curriculum for the district, with students learning about energy generation, conservation, carbon impact and sustainability through hands-on labs featuring the upgraded equipment.
“STEM is a cornerstone of our curriculum across the district, and we are excited to show our students how the earth’s natural resources can be transformed and create such a substantial impact in their lives,” Miles Hanley, Richland One energy manager, said.