Sun Tribe Solar and Westmoreland County Public Schools partner to develop the first pollinator-friendly solar farm for the Virginia Public School system.
Sun Tribe Solar, Virginia’s leading solar energy company, announced that it has been selected by Westmoreland County Public Schools to enter into a solar power purchase agreement to meet 100% of the energy needs of Cople Elementary School. The project pairs solar with agriculture and conservation efforts using pollinator friendly approach. The array will produce an estimated 1,162,644 kWh per year offsetting the buildings carbon footprint by 865 tons of CO2 annually, and saving the school $3.6 million over its lifespan. The array will require no upfront capital investment from Westmoreland, as Sun Tribe Solar will be funding the system through a Power Purchase Agreement.
The pollinator-friendly approach is a recent effort to expand the ecological benefits of solar development. Traditionally, solar farms are positioned along gravel or turf fields. As an alternative, wild flowers and other host plants can be planted underneath or around the panels, offering a multitude of conservational and economic benefits. With increased habitats for pollinator species, bee and other populations are able to grow, thus benefiting surrounding agriculture development. These plants also offer an improved visual aesthetic of solar infrastructure for the nearby school. In this project, the flowers will be positioned right beside the solar array, and Sun Tribe Solar will be planting several different types of seeds mixings in an effort to better understand the most effective methods.
Sun Tribe Solar has been working with Virginia schools to provide affordable alternatives for solar energy and is proud to be working with Westmoreland Schools in offering unprecedented savings with this first of its kind project. This project follows closely on the heels of Sun Tribe’s 1.01 MW project with Middlesex County Schools, which meets 95% of the electricity needs of two of their schools. Dr. Michael Perry, the superintendent for Westmoreland County Public Schools, explains “With no upfront costs to the school system or county and substantial lifetime savings, this is a huge win for Westmoreland County Public Schools. We look forward to integrating this project into our curriculum and providing the students with hands-on learning opportunities. This project also symbolizes the progressive and forward look of our administration and school board.”
Sun Tribe Solar, in partnership with the NEED (National Energy Education Development) Project, will offer energy curriculum materials and training to teachers to bring the solar system into the classroom. Sun Tribe’s Education Market Manager, Tony Stephan, states “The benefits of clean energy are not only in the savings and carbon offset. When you integrate solar into a school system, there is a vast educational benefit as well. We ensure that teachers are fully equipped to integrate this science into their curriculum, and that students are able to see the first- hand benefits of clean energy.”
ABOUT SUN TRIBE SOLAR
Sun Tribe Solar is an industry leader in the engineering and construction of large- scale solar facilities in Virginia. Sun Tribe Solar team members bring over 1 GW of solar PV experience to the market and have successfully built generating facilities for well-known utilities including Dominion, PSEG, Exelon, and Entergy. Sun Tribe Solar engineers and project managers have led the design and construction of projects in 13 different states, and in the past two years, Sun Tribe Solar has successfully delivered 26 solar/solar+storage projects for high-profile clients. Now in its third year of engineering, installing, operating, and maintaining solar systems, Sun Tribe Solar has been responsible for the four largest net metered systems in Virginia and the three largest PPA projects ever submitted to the Virginia PPA Pilot Program.
ABOUT WESTMORELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS
The Westmoreland Public Schools are located in Westmoreland County, Virginia, which is situated between the Rappahannock River and the Potomac River in the Northern Neck area. Westmoreland County offers many high-quality options for public education. Westmoreland County Public Schools, an independent school division, operates four schools that serve more than 1,600 students in Westmoreland County and the Town of Montross.
Sun Tribe Solar Contact:
Amelia Thomas Marketing Associate
Dr. Michael Perry
Superintendent of Westmoreland County Schools