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Kilbourne Schools

McCord

Kilbourne Schools

Linworth Alternative

7 Worthington Schools to Receive Free Solar Power


Seven Worthington schools will receive free power from the sun thanks to a new partnership between the school district and a local nonprofit organization.

Worthington Schools is working with Solar Cascade to install solar panels on the selected schools. The panels, funded through individual and corporate donations, will provide free, clean solar power to each school for up to 50 years, the lifetime of the panels.

Solar Cascade.org, a Worthington-based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, was created specifically to fund and install large-scale solar on schools, colleges, not-for-profits, hospitals, and other community locations.

Schools selected by district officials for solar gifts include: Colonial Hills Elementary, Linworth, McCord Middle School, Phoenix Middle School, Slate Hill Elementary, Worthington Hills Elementary, and Worthington Kilbourne High School.

Worthington Schools' CFO Jeff McCuen estimates each system will save over $100,000, saving the district more than $600,000 over the life of the solar panels. "In a time when budgets continue to be tight, that represents a significant savings for the district," McCuen said.

Tim Gehring, Director of Facilities Management, said Worthington Schools had one of the nation's first solar power purchase agreements at Evening Street Elementary. Worthington Schools will again be at the forefront with the solar gift project through Solar Cascade.org. "This is just a start," Gehring, said. "We intend to add more solar as Solar Cascade.org gains traction. Worthington Schools is receiving a gift of solar power. We own the system which gains value as the utilities rates increase over the decades," he added.

Currently, three Worthington Schools, in addition to Evening Street, use solar panels to generate a portion of their power.

Free power isn't the only benefit from the new project: the solar panels provide learning opportunities as well as students see and learn firsthand about the benefits and energy savings solar power is providing to their school.

Fundraising via Solar Cascade.org's website is already underway for the seven schools. Once a project site accumulates $50,000 in donations, installation of the solar panels can begin. Donations in any amount can be made by individuals, groups, and businesses.

Worthington resident Thomas Van Cleef, founder and executive director of Solar Cascade.org, said he started the nonprofit organization to help bring clean solar power and financial savings to schools and other community organizations that need it most.

"Schools and other deserving organizations get energy and savings," Van Cleef said. "Solar panels for these schools provide a lasting gift of sunshine for fifty years."

Worthington School Board President Jennifer Best said the district is looking forward to more buildings with solar panels. "This project will provide additional learning opportunities for our students, be good for the environment, and save money."

Solar Cascade.org is partnering with Solar by Soldiers, which hires and trains military veterans, to install the panels.

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