Two Rochester schools will produce some of their own energy through solar panels

Oct. 29—ROCHESTER — Two Rochester schools are ready to produce some of their own electricity with the installation of solar panels on each building.

Both Dakota Middle School and Longfellow Elementary are recipients of grant funding from the Solar for Schools program, which incentivizes schools to invest in renewable energy.

Per the grant, RPS received $84,000 for each school, which is roughly half the amount it will cost for the purchase and installation of the solar systems. Even though RPS will have to essentially finance the rest of the project, the district will still be saving money from the reduced electricity it will have to purchase for the schools once the panels are operational.

"We're paying less between what we're paying for electricity and the amount we're paying the developer," RPS Chief Administrative Officer John Carlson said.

The school district will be hosting ribbon cuttings for the new projects on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

Rochester is not the only local school district to take advantage of the opportunity.

Schools in Byron, Stewartville

and Plainview-Elgin-Millville have received grants for solar funding as well.

Aside from now creating some of its own energy, Rochester Public Schools has been focusing on reducing the amount of energy it actually uses. In November 2022,

RPS reported saving

$3 million in energy costs over a four-year period.

In addition to Dakota and Longfellow, RPS also applied for grant funding under the program for Bishop and Overland elementary schools.

Each of those four schools are newly-constructed buildings, funded by a referendum that was held in 2019. Dakota and Overland are new schools to the district. Longfellow and Bishop were existing schools that were demolished and then rebuilt.

"The reason we picked these buildings is because they have obviously brand new roofs," Carlson said. "We thought 'these are the easiest four to start with as we move down the path of more solar projects in the future.'"