Helios Energy Lights Our Schools

Many Eco-Schools would like to incorporate renewable energy into their action plans, but see the initial expense as an insurmountable hurdle. 

Helios_LogoHELiOS, one of our Eco-Schools USA partners, wants to change that. They have developed a model that shows schools how it is possible to take on a solar panel installation project that is cost neutral (or even revenue positive) for the school district. We hope that their creative approach to planning for, and financing, solar energy will provide some inspiration to you.

Two Solutions

How is it possible to pay for a solar project without putting pressure on the general fund? While there are many ways to finance and own a renewable energy system, here are two solutions that offer the greatest benefit:


Construction BondSolar Panels_OregonDOT_Flickr

Under this model, the district asks residents of the school district to support a construction bond that includes money for energy efficiency and renewable energy systems. The money the district saves on electricity after the solar panels are installed can then be used to support teachers and school programs. 

Solar Master Plan - In order to determine the size of bond necessary to complete the work, consider developing a solar master plan for your district. View an example of a comprehensive master plan here.

Low Interest Financing

Under this model, the district takes advantage of low-interest financing often available from US Government backed bonds to pay for solar panel installation. The money saved on electricity is used to pay back the loan. The goal is for the solar panels to generate enough electricity that the utility charges the district no longer has to pay, amount to more than the payment on the loan or low-interest bond.

>> Visit the HELiOS website to learn more about installing renewable energy systems at your school

>> Read how one high school student inspired her school district to embrace solar

>> Use this solar and wind calculator to estimate the size and cost to install an energy system



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Green Ribbon Schools
Dept of Education 

The U.S. Department of Education announced in April 2011 the creation of the Green Ribbon Schools program to recognize schools that are creating healthy and sustainable learning environments and teaching environmental literacy. Click here to learn more!