Solar Energy in the United States

Table of Content

There have been growing problems in the budgets of Dallas Schools, especially ones in DISD. In the spring of 2016, “Superintendent Michael Hinojosa cut $60 million from the budget in order to expand important programs, such as pre-K” (Dallas Morning News, 2017). Within the budget cuts, one counselor from each high school was cut, and almost a dozen schools lost a librarian.This is concerning because counselors are vital to student success and achievement. Their guidance help students who have less support at home, and have needs that range from social to emotional.

On the other hand, the loss of librarians is also concerning because they help encourage reading in students, and improve research techniques. Furthermore, they work with teachers and staff to obtain materials needed for classes. Although counselors and librarians are chosen to be cut because they “least directly provide services on a day-to-day basis for students,” they are still vital parts to Dallas schools (Dallas Morning News, 2017).

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Solar Panels in Schools

The decline in the cost of solar panels has made solar energy more affordable and accessible, creating many benefits for schools. It helps schools save money and energy for educational purposes. These facts demonstrate the findings and growing impact of solar panels on schools over the years:Over 5,000 schools now use solar energy in the United States at “double of the total solar capacity installed at schools in 2014” (Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools, n.d.).The chances of a school having a solar energy system correlates with grade level. As grade level increases, the chances of having the solar energy system increases (Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools, n.d.).

The Solar Foundation found that “450 individual school districts could each save more than $1,000,000 over 30 years by installing a solar PV system” (“Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools,” n.d.).According to the Superintendent of the Scottsdale Unified School District outside Phoenix, after switching to solar power, it had a “$20 million budget decrease in two years, with 90% of their budget going to staff, 6% going for power and 4% going for supplies” (The Benefits of Solar Power for Schools, n.d.).By installing solar panels in DISD schools, we hope to provide them with these same benefits. We aim to help them save money and use energy efficiently.

ProposalHow Many People Can This Effect?By installing solar panels on the four most populated high schools in Dallas ISD, the amount of money spent on electricity bills will decrease. This, in return, will directly help about 11,665 students from these schools. The extra money saved can go towards hiring more counselors and teachers, buying more textbooks and equipment, and funding for educational programs. Indirectly, that money saved will also benefit the entire district, helping an estimated 147,866 students and 20,757 school employees. As the school years pass by, the number of people impacted will gradually increase, and educational programs will have more funding.

Plan of ActionOur goal is to save the city of Dallas and DISD money through the use of clean solar energy by dropping energy consumption by 20% in each of the four largest high schools in DISD. This will be achieved by installing Tesla’s solar panels.How Does Going Solar Help Save Money?When the school is able to generate its own solar power, it can reduce the electricity bill significantly. The exact savings depends on the size of the solar power system and the school’s electricity usage.

If the solar power system generates more electricity than the school can immediately use, excess energy flows back to the utility grid (Starrs, 2015). The utility company used may pay the school or credit it for this electricity. This can especially be beneficial to schools during the summer when the days are longer of direct sunlight, in addition to lower energy consumption due to fewer students and classes.How Will We Know How Much Solar Energy is Being Generated?In addition to the solar power equipment, Tesla provides access to an app (available via smartphone, tablet, or desktop) that gives real-time visibility of the solar production of each individual school (Tesla Support, n.d.).

This will allow people to know how much solar energy is being generated. Chosen SchoolsTo impact Dallas as a whole, and not just certain areas and sectors,we have decided to  choose the most populated high schools from the north, west, east, and south. The professional would have already prepared beforehand by looking at Google maps, checking the azimuth, the direction of the roof, and the shading on the property in order to better coordinate where the solar panels are to be placed (Careers in Solar Power, n.d.).

He or she will also confirm the system design, verify measurements, and inspect the roof or property to adjust for a more precise measurement of shade and work with obstructions that are blocking the roof. This process usually takes 1-2 weeks.Design ApprovalAfter the site evaluation, the solar design expert will make any number of adjustments to the solar power system plan, quote, and the best way to build the conduit to make everything look perfect. This process takes 1-3 weeksPermittingThe next step is getting permission from the city to start construction.

This is a challenging phase because we would have to depend on bureaucracy. In some jurisdictions, the wait for this can be quick. However, in others, it can take much longer than desired. In this case, Tesla’s solar professional will be accompanied by a permitting expert who will get to know his or her government officials and develop a rapport with them (Richardson, 2018). Tesla will then consider permitting from the start of the project and orient the timeline expectations regarding how long the final documentation will take.

This process will be the longest. It could be anywhere from 2-8 weeks.InstallationAfter the permits come through, the solar company will be ready to order the parts and have them shipped over to the schools. Tesla will then send its team over in order to begin installing the solar panels onto the schools’ rooves. This process will take 2-5 days.City/County InspectionsAfter the construction is finished, the city or county is required to do a final inspection before the energy system can be connected to the grid. The estimated time to complete this step is generally 1-4 weeks.

Utility InterconnectionThe solar company will submit the documents to the utility company in order to connect to the grid.Then the utility will install the bi-directional meter and have it come online to track how much energy is being produced. This process usually takes around 3-6 weeks. From initial site assessment with the solar salesperson to when the system finally goes online can take between 2-3 months on average.

After full installation, each school will require quarterly inspections and maintenance. This is important in making sure that solar panels are working and being used correctly and efficiently.  With any additional construction done to a building, permits and inspections are required to comply with the requirements made by the City of Dallas.A permit is required in order to install solar panels in DISD schools. It is necessary for the permits to comply with the National Electrical Code and International Residential Code.

The work done to the schools also must be performed by a licensed electrical contractor registered to work in the City of Dallas.Plan ReviewIn order to begin the construction of the solar panels a Solar Photovoltaic (Pv) System Plan Review Checklist is necessary to obtain. PlansConstruction documents and plans for the installation of the solar panel water heater or photovoltaic system need to be reviewed, designed, and sealed by a licensed engineer. The plans are required to comply with either Section R301.1.3, Dallas Residential Code or Chapter 16, Dallas Building Code. Site PlansSite plans that Tesla must comply with during the installation of Solar Panels include: A plan that shows all property lines indicating: Length, Metes and bounds, building lines, and easementsThe location of proposed solar system equipment and existing structures must be evident.

A roof plan that shows the existing mechanical, plumbing venting, and intakes. Engineered construction documents include an assembly/installation plans of the solar panel system. Engineered construction documents of the solar panel system in connection to the building layoutThe following require electrical information from the applicant.

Line diagram of electrical system. Array information Plans may be required, such as:Site plan: showing the location of building in relation to street and property linesStructural plans: demonstrating sufficient support and uplift of photovoltaic panels. Professional engineer’s stamps may be required from electrical engineers and structural engineers. Additional essential information may include.

Manufacturer’s cut sheets for all componentsSignage requirements. List of all equipment and components. Key Staff and CredentialsSite AssessorsOur site assessors will evaluate the installation site in person to determine how much energy can be harvested by using solar site assessment equipment, as shown to the right (Solar Site Assessor, n.d.).

Afterwards, they will make recommendations based on their assessment. Their other jobs will also include the following. Determining the layout of solar panels. Drawing out plans for the installation crewTaking readings of sunlight. Reviewing weather patterns. Calculating costs and savings. Our site assessors have past experience in roofing and solar panel installation. They have received plenty of on-the-job training in using equipment to assess the installation site.

Solar Panel InstallersOur solar panel installers are the key figures in this project. They are in charge of solar maintenance and installation. The main part of their job is to prepare the installation site. They will carry out an audit of the site, familiarizing themselves with the electrical system and develop safety procedures before doing the job (Careers in Solar Power, n.d.). Our workers will use proper safety equipment to anchor themselves up on the roofs as they carry out the installation process. All of our solar panel installers are licensed by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), and many of them have experience in construction and as electricians.

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Solar Energy in the United States. (2021, Sep 23). Retrieved from

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