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Lori Berman looks to push schools toward solar energy

The bill allows schools to contract with a solar company to place a solar power source on-site.

A new measure filed Thursday by state Sen. Lori Berman is seeking to make it easier for schools to utilize solar energy.

The bill (SB 1290) allows a school to enter into a contract with a solar company to place a solar power source on-site at the school.

“The contracted third party may sell the electricity generated from the renewable energy source device to the public educational customer through a power purchase agreement or similar financing arrangement,” the bill reads.

“For purposes of this chapter, such financing arrangements are not retail sales of electricity and do not subject the contracted third party to regulation under this chapter.”

Berman cites research from The Solar Foundation that shows just 3.1% of K-12 schools in the state have solar panels on rooftops. The Delray Beach Democrat is looking to up those numbers with her legislation.

“The traditional way of providing electricity to power our public schools is not only expensive but antiquated,” Berman said in a statement announcing the bill.

“Switching to solar would mean not only a low-cost, pollution-free and reliable system of sustainable energy but savings of tens of millions of public dollars annually that could be plowed back into our schools as investments for the future.”

The bill also allows school districts to combine electric meters at participating schools for net metering.

Net metering allows solar energy users to sell back unused solar to power companies to receive a credit to cut their energy bills. Berman’s measure would allow districts to aggregate meters across the country for that purpose.

“Installing solar helps people and communities save money and take control of where their electricity comes from,” said Angela DeMonbreun, the Florida Program Director for Solar United Neighbors.

“This bill will give schools the flexibility they need to adopt solar for their buildings, allowing them to spend less on energy and more on educating our children.”

If approved, the legislation would go into effect on July 1, 2020.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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