Rochester Public Schools celebrate eco-friendly change

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 12:36 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Rochester Public Schools (RPS) celebrated on Wednesday, November 15, the start of an eco-friendly change in the district. Solar panels were recently installed on the roofs of Dakota Middle School and Longfellow Elementary School.

The arrays are already producing power for the schools. Over the next 25 years, the solar panels will produce 3 million kilowatt hours of clean energy. According to the district, for the environment, that is equal to growing almost 37,000 trees. This will help reduce electricity-based greenhouse gas emissions.

This project was financed through a grant from the program “Solar for Schools.” In the Minnesota, 45 school districts got funding to install solar arrays for 80 buildings.

“The cool thing about a grant like this is we’re going to be able to try it out. We can see if this is as cost effective as we think solar has become,” Kent Pekel, RPS superintendent, said. “We will look at the experience at Longfellow over the next year and based on the findings, we will make decisions on whether solar should be a priority more broadly across the district.”

Pekel said it is a priory to give the students a chance to learn how solar energy is produced, the effects on the environment and the implications for the district’s finances.

“I think whether we are talking about the exhaust from school buses that are idling outside schools or the heat that our buildings need to keep us warm,” Pekel said. “The students are demanding that in this school district, we make stewardship of the environment a real priority.”