Knox County, Ameresco, Partner to Bring Solar to 11 Schools

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L to R: Jeff Metcalf, Vice President, Ameresco; Superintendent Jim McIntyre, Mayor Burchett (Photo: Business Wire)
Schools across the country are learning that going solar is good for the environment, for education, and for the budget. The latest district to go solar, Knox County, Tennessee, celebrated the completion  of its first system yesterday.

The solar array in the spotlight was the first of 11 that Ameresco is building for the district. Another three systems will be built on other county facilities, including the Knox County Central Building. Together, these 14 projects will provide 5 MW of power for the county.

The project is expected to be complete by the beginning of next year at all locations. The county expects to save more than $29 million in energy costs, and receive a net benefit of $14 million over the next 30 years.

“Our renewable project is fiscally responsible, saves taxpayer money and makes good business sense for the County and our entire community,” said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. “This solar project will pay for itself and reduce utility costs, which means it’s good for our taxpayers and the environment. It’s a win-win no matter how we look at it.”

For the students at one school, the solar panels will provide more than energy. A sample installation will be set up at the L&N STEM Academy. Data from the system will be monitored and displayed on a kiosk for interactive learning opportunities with students.

Jim McIntyre, Superintendent of the Knox County Schools, said, “In addition to the financial and environmental benefits, this project will provide our school system with a tremendously valuable educational tool to teach our students about renewable energy technologies, and emphasize to the future leaders of our community the importance of sustainability.”

In addition to the educational and environmental benefits this project will provide, Ameresco anticipates that over 125 jobs will be created during the course of this project.

“We commend Knox County for its leadership in embracing sustainability practices and for its commitment to renewable energy,” said Louis P. Maltezos, Executive Vice President, Ameresco. “We are proud to be helping the County achieve significant financial and environmental benefits through implementation of this solar project which will also provide a wealth of information for student learning.”