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Completion of first solar structure

TUSD celebrates completion of solar structure installation at ribbon-cutting
Marshall Elementary School first of more than 40 sites to be ‘solarized' in large-scale project

Posted May 13, 2014

A crowd of community members, district leaders, school administrators and elected officials gathered under shade created by one of the solar structures at Marshall Elementary School to celebrate the completion of the first site in TUSD's latest solar project, one of the biggest of its kind in the nation.

Speakers at the event, held on a sunny May 13 morning, included Superintendent H.T. Sánchez , Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Wendy Erika Werden, who is an outreach coordinator for U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, and Rob Dallal, director of Natural Power & Energy, the district's partner in the project.

Dr. Sánchez said the solar structure project, which includes more than 40 sites, will save the district about $170,000 in the first year and $11 million over 20 years and will help the environment, a concern he is hearing repeatedly as community committees work to create the five-year strategic plan for the district.

"The governing board and facility leadership are finding ways to take care of our environment and our children," Sánchez said. "It's such a powerful message to our children that we as adults are trying to be good stewards of our environment."

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said the district's project will avert more than 19,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in its first full year of operation, along with 23.5 tons of nitrous oxides.

"I want to thank TUSD for undertaking what I consider a transformational project in our community," the mayor said.

The solar structures will be installed in stages and will be strategically placed to provide shade on playgrounds when possible. In addition to environmental and financial benefits, the solar panels will generate learning opportunities.

Rep. Ron Barber, in a letter read at Tuesday's ceremony, praised the district for leading the nation with the project and for being a role model for environmental stewardship.

"You also are teaching your students and employees that alternative energy resources work for our community. They will be reminded of this every day when they come to school," he wrote. "That's making an impact when they consider their own energy options in the future."

Kamryn Redlin, a Marshall fifth-grader, sees another potential benefit of going solar. She noted that the project will save money and made a suggestion: "That money can be used for more stuff for our schools—or field trips!"

Learn more about Tucson Unified School District's solar project here at these webpages.

Photo of Mayor Jonathan Rothschild
Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild
Photo of Wendy Erika Werden addressing audience
Wendy Erika Werden delivers U.S. Rep. Barber's praise for project. 
Photo of Dr. Sánchez and students
Dr. Sánchez and students discuss the advantages of solar energy. 
Photo of Rob Dallal
Rob Dallal, president of Natural Power & Energy, the district's partner in the project