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Portland Public Schools adds solar atop classrooms

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A $4.6 million project to put solar on Portland Public Schools rooftops launched to fanfare Thursday, Sept. 24.

The installations at six schools — Arleta School in outer southeast, James John Elementary in St. Johns, Bridlemile Elementary in southwest, Laurelhurst school in northeast, Hosford Middle School in inner southeast and Wilson High School in southwest — will be 1.2 megawatts combined. The 4,000 solar panels will be enough to power 100 single-family homes, though the schools will use much of the electricity themselves.

Funding for the project came through PPS’ 2012 construction bond, $2 million from PGE customers who contributed to the Renewable Development Funds, and $1 million from Energy Trust of Oregon’s cash incentives program.

"Along with 19 others we've helped PPS install on school properties throughout the district, these systems will harness the sun to power school buildings and student learning," said Energy Trust Executive Director Margie Harris.

The project includes teaching aides from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to teach kids about solar power generation through interactive project kiosks and learning kits.

“One of the core values of the school bond is to leverage partnerships to do more for our great city,” said PPS Superintendent Carole Smith in a news release. “This agreement will provide a financial benefit to PPS, generate renewable energy that powers the schools, helps us meet our carbon emission reduction goal and provides important learning opportunities for our students.”

The district estimates that in the first 25 years of operation, the facilities will generate enough electricity to offset more than 39 million pounds of carbon dioxide. This is about as much as taking 3,787 cars off the road for a year.

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