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Solar panels put money back into Delphi schools

A South Bend based solar development company is trying to reduce its own carbon footprint.

CARROLL COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – A multi-million dollar investment in solar panels is generating energy and money for the Delphi Community School Corporation.

The Delphi Community School Corporation now has 6,000 solar panels on two different sites.

They’re generating power that will help pay for the school corporation’s energy costs.

But the solar panels are also generating money and a new curriculum for students.

“I think it is an amazing opportunity for our kids, and I think it gives them something to be proud of to be from Delphi, who has taken this opportunity to put us on the map and to save money and to make our environment better,” Adelle Marvin, a teacher at Delphi Community Elementary School said.

On Nov. 21, the Delphi Community School Corporation powered up its two solar panel fields.

Now all buildings in the corporation are benefiting.

But the power generated goes into a grid and not directly to the school.

“Some days it generates more than what we use, so we get credit for that day. Some days it doesn’t generate as much and what we end up with, we’ll utilize from our credits,” Superintendent Greg Briles said.

Briles presented the idea to the school board and got approval.

Now instead of the average $357,000 a year in energy costs, the school will only pay to lease panels for about $200,000 for the first three years.

After that, payments increase to about $300,000 annually until the lease reaches its 20th year.

Briles says the panels have a lifespan of about 30 to 35 years,

Considering the cost of energy increases by 3 percent each year, Briles says the school corporation is set to save big time.

“For ten to fifteen years, we will not be paying for our solar panels. They will be generating money back into the school corporation,” said Briles.

Briles estimates about $100,000 will go back into the schools.

That’s something Marvin is excited to see happen.

“Right now in the state of Indiana, all you hear about is how we have no money and we can’t fund things and we can’t do things. I think that it’s amazing that Mr. Briles looked for a way to get more money into our school corporation because all of our kids will benefit,” Marvin said.

The new program also adds a new aspect to the school curriculum. Through , teachers have been given new material to help students get a hands-on approach to the benefits of solar energy.