Dear Fairfax County School Board Member
We are writing to encourage Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) to add planning
for solar energy facilities into the Capital Improvement Program. As new schools are
designed and older schools are renovated, the addition of solar panels needs to be
factored into the design.
FCPS has already done a remarkable job of making the schools more energy
efficient. Of the 196 schools in the system, over 145 have gained Energy Star
recognition. This is very much in line with the FCPS Environmental Stewardship
Policy adopted in November of 2008, where the FCPS Board noted:
The world’s leading scientists agree that human-induced greenhouse gas
emissions are a significant contributor to global warming and that reducing
those emissions is one of the most significant challenges confronting the
world today. Fairfax County Public Schools is committed to continuing to
take innovative and cost-effective steps to help our country achieve climate
stabilization. This policy is intended to prioritize the practices to be
developed and implemented by staff members in order to address global
warming and to meet other important environmental stewardship
The policy document also recognized that the electricity available to FCPS from
Dominion Energy Virginia is not clean or non-carbon emitting. While the fuel mix
has changed since 2008, it has not improved significantly and still contributes in an
outsized way to pollution in Virginia. The current breakdown of fuel sources is :
FCPS has made the right improvements, in the correct order, and for that should be
congratulated. Energy efficiency is the “first fuel.” Adding clean, renewable energy to
the mix is the next modification that needs to be made in the very near term.
Chart from Dominion Energy Virginia’s current website.
Renewables include biomass and hydropower. Excluding NonUtility
Generated skews the numbers and makes renewables
appear as a larger percentage than actual.
Several school systems in Virginia have added solar to their energy mix, ranging
from large (the Arlington system’s net-zero Discovery School) to small (Bath County,
Albemarle County and Middlesex County). These have involved installing rooftop
solar panels, which serve as an energy source and as a scientific learning
opportunity for the students. More, these school systems understand that installing
solar is a hedge against the increase in the price of electricity from the utility.
Finally, they offer a message to their students, parents and taxpayers that their
school board and facilities staff are concerned about the quality of the air these
young people breathe today as well as the future world they will live in.
The solar electricity in Bath, Albemarle and Middlesex is being acquired through
Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). These require no capital budget expenditures;
instead, they merely move some operations money that has been paying for utility provided electricity to a third-party solar developer who will install and maintain
the panels for the same set price for the duration of the contract.
Below is information about the three small school systems noted earlier. If these
school systems can go solar (in some cases providing all the electricity a given
school needs), certainly a sophisticated school system like FCPS can do the same.
It is time for FCPS to move to clean renewable energy to create a hedge against
electricity price increases, to provide forward-looking educational opportunities,
and to help safeguard the health and welfare of the students, their parents and
neighbors, and future generations. We are asking that planning for the acquisition
of solar energy for FCPS be included in the next revision of the CIP.
Great Falls Group of the 350.org Fairfax
Virginia Sierra Club
The Climate Reality Project: Our Revolution NoVA
Northern Virginia Chapter
References on solar on schools in Virginia.
https://www.altenergymag.com/news/2017/11/15/middlesex-county-public-scDr. so and so
Please put solar panels in our school.