Solar power shines in Wayne Township school district

WAYNE TOWNSHIP, Ind. -- The Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township is banking on the sun to provide a unique learning experience for its students and save the district money.

The school district on the west side of Indianapolis has built a solar farm directly west of Ben Davis High School and north of 10th Street behind the Shell gas station. It has 7,200 solar panels and two 750-kilowatt generators on 14 acres of land that used to be a driving range.

The goal of the solar farm is to reduce the dependency of on-grid electrical power and reduce the district’s carbon footprint.

The district expects the solar farm to reduce its energy consumption by about 80 percent at the neighboring Ben Davis High School and 9th Grade Center campus.    

Pete Just, MSD of Wayne Township Chief Operational Officer told RTV6, “We’re going it because we have to find good ways to conserve our dollars to put them in the classrooms, so we’re trying to be smart about how we actually consume our dollars, especially when it comes to expendable things like energy.”     

The project cost the district $5 million, with the funds coming from the operating budget and a loan.

It’s expected to be paid off in 15 years, with a lifespan of 25 to 30 years and Just says they expect to see the biggest savings in the summer months.

The normal summer energy bill at Ben Davis High School and the 9th Grade Center is $138,000, that's expected to drop to $55,000 a month or less with the new solar farm in place. 

The solar cells began generating power in early October and are currently generating one megawatt per hour with half the field operational. It’s expected to be fully operational around mid-November.     

The district is also developing an education plan around the solar farm for use from elementary to high school students.    

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