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School Board Approves Solar Power Plan

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School Board Approves Solar Power Plan
Posted on 08/28/2019
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The Portland Board of Public Education on Aug. 20 approved a plan to develop a 3,500-kilowatt solar project that could cover 60 to 80 percent of the district’s energy needs and result in an estimated $50,000 per year in savings.

The board unanimously passed a resolution that direct Superintendent Xavier Botana to work as rapidly as possible to pursue a power purchase agreement for an offsite, metered solar project. The resolution says that the project would reduce the district’s carbon footprint if the district retains and retires the renewable energy credits associated with the solar generation.

The Board’s resolution credits SolaRISE, an organization of students from all three of the district’s high schools that was formed last year, with leading the effort to build support for a solar energy program in the Portland Public Schools.

The resolution also notes that Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in 2018 that the world has only about a decade to act in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. As a coastal, urban community, “Portland is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including sea level rise, coastal flooding, warming of Casco Bay and the Gulf of Maine, shifting marine species and disruption of traditional fisheries, and more extreme weather events, among other impacts,” the resolution says. Such climate changes will have “cascading effects on Portland’s economy, infrastructure, public health and safety, and the well-being of our students,” the resolution says.

It also notes that the City of Portland has committed to reducing communitywide greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and to transitioning to 100 percent clean energy for municipal operations by 2040. The Portland Public Schools’ use of solar energy, which is abundant, renewable, and non-polluting, can aid in that goal.

The resolution also directs the superintendent to consider partnering with the City and adjacent communities “to secure a larger scale of operation, to share costs and resources, and to become more competitive for state and federal grants.”