By DREW GARDNER
6 News Reporter
KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Solar panels could be coming to the roofs of several Knox County Schools as well as Knox County buildings. The new initiative was announced Monday morning and could become a reality by the end of the year.
Knox County has considered the idea of installing solar panels on its schools and buildings several times, but was never found to be very cost effective.
“The environmental benefits were there and we know that, but there’s never been a truly feasible way to do it until now,” said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett.
Six months ago, solar panels were installed on the roofs of schools in Campbell County in a way that proved to be cost effective. It’s where the mayor got the idea.
“I visited Campbell County and I walked out on several of those roofs and I talked to everyone from a school maintenance man to elementary school principal to the Campbell County Schools Superintendent and they all had good things to say about it,” said Burchett.
The school partners with a company called Efficient Energy of Tennessee to install the panels and then sells the energy generated directly to TVA.
Projections are Knox County Schools will save five million dollars over the next 15 years because of the solar energy.
“What’s nice about this potential opportunity is at the nexus of being environmentally friendly, it’s a potential educational opportunity for our kids and there’s a guaranteed savings component to it,” said Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre.
McIntyre says one of the things that makes this such a good deal is an energy rate credit being offered by TVA that expires at the end of this year. That means both the school and county have very little time to make a decision on installing the panels.
The County Commission and school board are set to vote on the issues during their December meetings.