Maintenance & Operations

Largest K-12 Photovoltaic Roof Top Solar System in Virginia

Created through Virginia Public School Division and Dominion Virginia Power partnership.

Photovoltaic Roof

PHOTO COURTESY OF DOMINION VIRGINIA POWER

Dominion Virginia Power, Standard Solar and Chesapeake Public schools recently partnered to install more than 3,000 photovoltaic solar panels on the rooftop of Western Branch High School, in Chesapeake, Va. This rooftop system has the capability to generate almost one megawatt of energy. The electricity generated can produce enough energy to supply power to over 250 homes. Western Branch High School became the first school to participate in Dominion Virginia Power’s Solar Partnership Program. Dominion Virginia Power chose this high school based on several conditions that were needed to make the project a success. One condition was having a new flat roof and the other component included the relationship to the energy grid that Dominion Virginia Power wanted to supply power to.

The partnership allows Dominion Virginia Power to lease the rooftop space for a minimum of 15 years with an option to expand five years thereafter. The electricity generated from the panels goes directly to the Dominion Virginia Power grid. There was extensive planning that took place including the layout design of the panels on the roof. This was important to ensure access needed for maintenance crews. The panels have a wind rating of up to 140 miles per hour.

Photovoltaic RoofAnother benefit of this partnership is the educational component. Dominion Virginia Power included training for teachers along with related materials designed to provide a hands on learning approach so students will have a better understanding of solar generated energy. The program also provided two interactive kiosks in the school, which allows students and stakeholders to review live energy data along with other energy tools and designations for energy uses. The link for the school can be found at www.solarems.net/kiosks/396.

There are resources and grants that allow school divisions to be creative in ways of supporting sustainable and renewable energy sources. The students at Western Branch High School, in Chesapeake get to experience this first hand. Solar and wind energy initiatives are still growing in interest and understanding. It is important to continue to expose students and communities to the future of renewable energy sources that help our environment.

This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of School Planning & Management.

About the Author

John A. Bailey, Ph.D. is the director of School Plants for Chesapeake Public Schools and a National School Plant Managers Association board member, representing Virginia, and a Virginia School Plant Managers Association board member, representing Region II, in Virginia.

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Has interest in sustainability initiatives—from alternative energy and water conservation to “green” landscaping, recycling, fossil-fuel divestment, local sourcing, and more—waned in your district?


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