National report finds increasing numbers of Pennsylvania schools are reaping the benefits of going solar as new federal funding and assistance become available
According to a new national report on schools’ adoption of solar published last week by nonprofit Generation180, Pennsylvania ranked 11th in the nation for the amount of solar installed by its K-12 schools, climbing up from 13th place two years ago. Since 2020, the amount of solar installed by Pennsylvania schools more than doubled from 14.5 MW to 29 MW, enough clean power to reduce carbon dioxide emissions equal to taking 5,000 gas powered vehicles off the road.
In the report, Brighter Future: A Study of Solar on K-12 Schools, 4th edition, Pennsylvania ranked 20th in the country for the number of schools with solar. The Commonwealth jumped up five spots in the rankings in two years due to 70% growth in the number of solar schools since 2020, rising from 63 to 107 solar schools.
The growth of solar adoption by Pennsylvania schools reflects the national trends reported on by Generation180. Since 2015, the amount of solar installed by nationwide K-12 schools has tripled and the number of schools with solar has doubled. Today, over 6 million students now attend more than 8,400 schools nationwide that utilize solar power. Solar energy offsets electricity at nearly 1 in 10 (9%) K-12 schools in the United States.
Across the country, schools with budgets of all sizes are going solar through third-party partnerships that remove the barrier of upfront costs and help schools see immediate energy cost savings. The report found that 87% of solar power installed at U.S. schools was funded through these third-party arrangements and the remainder was purchased and owned directly by schools. Generation180 found that the use of third-party ownership to fund solar projects for schools is also growing in Pennsylvania. Between 2020-2022, nearly three-quarters of solar capacity installed at statewide schools used this funding mechanism that requires little-to-no upfront costs for schools.
“Pennsylvania is poised to become a leader in solar adoption by schools,” said Shannon Crooker, Pennsylvania Director of Generation180. “Over the past two years, school districts across the state have doubled down on solar energy to balance their budgets and save millions in long-term energy costs. Now is the time for all Pennsylvania schools to access the financial, educational, and community benefits of going solar.”
The report findings come at a time of unprecedented momentum and historic federal investment in clean energy that will accelerate solar adoption by schools. The passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will set up a $500 million fund that will be distributed as grants for energy upgrades at public schools. The new Inflation Reduction Act allocates $369 billion towards building a clean energy economy and enables schools and other tax-exempt entities to receive a direct payment valued at 30% of the cost of a solar energy project.
Generation180 has recently announced free resources to make it easier for Pennsylvania schools to switch to solar. Through a partnership with Pennsylvania Solar Center, schools can enroll in the G.E.T. Solar for Schools program and receive free technical assistance and guidance through every step of the solar procurement process.
For a copy of the report, B-roll, and digital assets, please visit this link.
Generation180 is a national nonprofit working to inspire and equip people to take action on clean energy in their homes, schools, and communities. Instead of the doom and gloom of a warming planet, Generation180 is focused on the unparalleled opportunity for a cleaner, healthier, and more equitable clean energy future.
Our Solar for All Schools (SFAS) campaign is leading a movement nationwide to help K-12 schools reduce energy costs, enhance student learning, and foster healthier communities for all. SFAS is expanding access to solar by providing resources and support to school decision-makers and community advocates, building peer-to-peer networks, and advocating for stronger solar policies.
Learn more at SolarForAllSchools-PA.org.