Ogden schools see bright future with solar panels

Apr 18, 2022, 6:10 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2022, 1:30 pm

OGDEN, Utah — The Ogden School District has made a big push to go green and it’s all thanks to big savings from solar panels.

The panels above the new athletic center at Ben Lomond High School are a big catalyst for future plans.

The idea was to produce as much of the school’s energy as possible and so far it’s exceeding expectations.

The way new schools go up in the Ogden School District is now taking on a different shape than in years past, at least up top.

“We really see that long-term investment,” said district spokesman Jer Bates.

He said it is in large part thanks to the rows of solar panels that are now on top of Ben Lomond High School’s athletic center.

“It was designed to offset approximately 90% of the overall consumption,” Bates said. “So far after our first year of operation, we’ve found that we offset 93% of the building’s energy consumption which really is phenomenal.”

It’s enough Bates said to make solar a part of the blueprints going forward.

East Ridge Elementary just opened with solar panels last fall and two more schools are being rebuilt with similar plans in mind.

Bates said, “We wanted to hit a sweet spot where we would produce most of the energy but not over-produce. Where we’re selling back energy to the power grid but selling it back at a much-reduced rate where we don’t receive as much of a return on our investment.”

Solar panels on the new athletic center at Ben Lomond High School. (Used by permission, Ogden School District) The new athletic center at Ben Lomond High School. (Used by permission, Ogden School District) The new athletic center at Ben Lomond High School. (Used by permission, Ogden School District) Jer Bates is the spokesman for the Ogden School District (KSL TV) Polk Elementary (KSL TV) Polk Elementary (KSL TV) East Ridge Elementary (KSL TV)

Bates said, so far that appears to be working out. The district’s numbers show the panels at Ben Lomond saved about $10,000 during the summer months.

The district is willing to make the higher up-front cost knowing that taxpayers will save money down the line for decades to come.

“We’re equally as excited about the help to our environment because we look at this as we’re not just a place to educate students, we’re an entire community partner,” Bates said.

Going green is about more than the cash. Bates said the reduced footprint plays a major role in those future plans too.

The solar panels are part of a larger plan that started back in 2007 when the district hired an energy specialist, focused on cutting energy waste.

The district estimates it has saved more than $15 million so far.

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Ogden schools see bright future with solar panels