Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) announced it will install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on the roofs of several schools. This initiative will make MCPS the first school system in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to launch a large-scale solar PV program.

Each solar PV system within the program will be capable of producing between 100 and 400 kW of electric power. This amounts to between 20 and 40 percent of the total power requirements of the school during peak sunlight conditions.

The Board of Education has contracted with SunEdison, North America’s largest solar energy services provider, to develop the program. SunEdison has installed similar systems on commercial and institutional buildings, primarily in California, New Jersey and Connecticut.

“We are excited about this project because it does more than just bring a substantial amount of renewable energy into the county and reduce the demand for electricity. It also becomes a real-life science lab where our students can see solar energy at work,” said Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools.

The first schools selected for the solar PV systems are Clarksburg High School, Richard Montgomery High School and College Gardens Elementary School. Other installations will be announced pending further analysis of potential installation sites and the success of the first phase.

Under a solar power services agreement, SunEdison will finance, construct and operate the solar PV systems. MCPS will avoid all upfront capital costs and will purchase the electricity produced by the solar PV systems at fixed prices below retail rates. Federal renewable energy tax credits and Maryland power portfolio requirements allow SunEdison to offer such attractive rates. The solar PV systems will produce clean, renewable energy without generating noise, pollution or greenhouse gases. These solar PV systems also will lessen the stress on the electric infrastructure by increasing locally generated electricity and reducing the need for additional transmission lines.

The solar PV systems are estimated to deliver 694,925 kilowatt-hours of solar energy in the first year of operation, the annual equivalent of powering 65 homes or removing 75 cars from the road.