Huntley School District 158 to be powered by the sun

HUNTLEY, Ill. (WLS) -- Construction crews are working full speed ahead in an effort to get thousands of solar panels in place next to schools in the Huntley district.

The panels may be lightweight and portable, but the Huntley School District 158 is expecting they will provide hefty savings to the district's energy costs. The superintendent says the district will be able to put the energy savings back into the classroom.

"It's a win-win," said Dr. Scott Rowe, superintendent for District 158. "It doesn't cost us anything and we realize tremendous savings."

The Forefront Power Company is installing the panels and will retain ownership. The district will lease the panels in a year agreement that is expected to save the district more than $4 million over the next 20 years.

The company will also provide the district with curriculum to help educate students about the benefits of the renewable energy that will be powering their schools.

The Huntley district has eight schools spread over three large campuses with plenty of land to accommodate the solar panels, which allows them to put the panels up on the ground rather than on the rooftops.

"Having so much land is a huge benefit. It would cost quite a bit more to prepare the buildings to put solar on the roof," said Rowe.

The construction crews don't mind it either.

"It's good for the guys to get out and commune with nature," said Tom Zybko, of RB Construction, with a grin.

Safety and security are also issues for these solar panels around schools, so they have fencing ready to install. They plan to flip the switch and turn on the solar power sometime early this spring.
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