By Neha Vachhani
When thinking of renewable energy or sustainable resources, most people initially think of California and its tree-hugging residents. Although California takes the lead, New Jersey follows closely behind when it comes to solar energy. According to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the state reached the one gigawatt mark in total installed solar electric capacity this past February, which has continued to increase ever since. In 2013, approximately one third of all solar panels in the country were installed in New Jersey. Solar panels can be seen on suburban rooftops throughout New Jersey. However, the state prides itself on the government, business and nonprofit buildings that are powered with the renewable resource.
Among the nonresidential buildings powered with solar energy are the myriad of public schools throughout the state. Again, New Jersey ranks second in the nation when it comes to K-12 schools that use solar energy. Over 380 schools statewide have solar panels installed, generating nearly 100,000 kilowatts of solar electricity. Taking the lead with 6.1 megawatts, the Lawrenceville School in Mercer County has the most solar energy panels on a school in the United States. Solar power allows schools to save money, provide local jobs and, most importantly, provide power without harmful emissions. There are five times as many schools using solar energy than there were in 2008, providing students with access to more than they ever had before, according to NJ.com. Hopefully, this number only increases with time as people realize that solar energy is the future.
A study performed by the Solar Energy Industries Association displays that 16 school districts throughout New Jersey could save over $1 million in about 30 years with the help of solar power systems. In order to yield savings from the rather expensive investment, consumers must be patient because it does take a couple of years. Despite the price of installation, solar power systems are a worthy venture because it shows the world that schools and corporate businesses can take a step in the right direction to conserve resources and do something good for the planet, in addition to saving money in the long run.