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Ground broken on first installation

Ground broken on first solar-power installation

Posted February 19, 2014

Solar power is on its way to Marshall Elementary School.

Work has started on the first of more than 40 solar-power systems that will be installed at Tucson Unified School District schools.

The solar program represents the district's commitment to using renewable energy and reducing its carbon footprint while saving money. More than 19,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions will be averted from local power plants in the project's first full year of operation, along with 23.5 tons of nitrous oxides.

The 18-month project is expected to save TUSD approximately $170,000 in the first year and more than $11 million in energy costs over 20 years. As an added benefit, the majority of the 38,000 solar panels will be placed over playgrounds to provide shading.

Bringing solar to schools provides students with an up-close view of alternative energy at work. TUSD expects to incorporate an educational component, with the goal of encouraging students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math – or STEM.

The other schools in the first group to be "solarized" are Erickson, Gale, Henry, Soleng Tom and Wheeler elementary schools, as well as Secrist Middle School. Construction at each school is expected to last about 10 weeks.