AUSTIN – As the Austin ISD Board of Trustees approved a new Facilities Master Plan last night, the board directed the district to consider adding solar panels as they “modernize all school buildings over the next 25 years.”
“Solar power is very important and we take it very seriously here at Austin ISD,” said District 3 Trustee Ann Teich, author of the solar resolution. Teich said the district is now “installing solar on our roofs and on our grounds wherever possible.”
The resolution comes amid rising concerns by environmentalists and parents about the impacts of fossil fuels on our children’s future.
“From the Australian wildfires to sweltering walks to school in the middle of record-breaking heat waves, it's clearer than ever that our leaders should put our childrens’ future first and switch to clean and renewable energy,” said Emma Pabst, Global Warming Solutions Associate with Environment Texas Research and Policy Center.
Teich thanked Environment Texas and Pabst herself for their campaign, launched in October of 2018, urging the school district to follow-through on its commitment to solar energy. A 2013 school bond set aside at least $10 million for solar energy, but AISD has only spent about $3 million of the funds on solar. The group collected over 800 petition signatures for the initiative, and delivered a letter signed by more than 25 environmental groups, PTAs, and other community leaders in support of district-wide solar.
“Solar power is a great opportunity to help schools save on electric bills, teach our students about science, technology, and sustainability, and to stand up for the planet,” said Pabst. “With solar on 45 of their 130 schools, Austin ISD is a clean energy leader. They’ve made great progress on sustainability over the last decade, and the impending effects of climate change call for us to go further.”
According to analysis from Environment Texas Research and Policy Center, over the course of a 20-year lifespan, Austin ISD’s current solar installations will save the district nearly $5 million in energy costs, earn $500,000+ in incentives from Austin Energy, and avert more than 80 million pounds of carbon pollution -- the equivalent of planting more than 41,100 trees. The State Energy Conservation Office estimates solar on AISD buildings could generate 22 megawatts of power or enough to power about 2500 homes.
The resolution adopted by the Board notes that solar power “serves as an important instructional tool to teach students about science, technology, and sustainability while reducing fossil fuel consumption and averting millions of pounds of carbon pollution for our community annually.”
Environment Texas Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. For more information, visit www.environmenttexascenter.org.