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Opinion: Urge your local school board to apply for renewable energy grants

Our school boards can be a safer place with less air pollution if they move toward renewable and more efficient energy use

SHARE Opinion: Urge your local school board to apply for renewable energy grants
Solar panels sit atop Mountain View Elementary.

Greg Libecci, energy and resource manager for the Salt Lake City School District, stands with solar panels on the roof of Mountain View Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. Clean energy has become less expensive in recent years due to innovations.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

School infrastructure investments can deliver critical student health and learning benefits while reducing harmful air pollution. In the past few years, many Utah school districts have embarked on a path to clean energy and energy savings. In the Salt Lake School District, the district is working toward carbon neutrality. This is expected to save them $1.3 million annually in utility savings from renewable energy, energy efficiency and water conservation projects. Park City School District made a similar commitment in 2021. And school districts including Granite and Davis have been working to integrate energy savings and clean energy into many of their schools. 

Right now, Utah schools have an exciting opportunity to build on this momentum, and seek infrastructure investments at no cost to taxpayers by applying to the Department of Energy’s Renew America’s Schools Grant Program. This program provides $500 million for schools to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. It also provides funding for repairs or renovations — which could greatly benefit our state’s oldest school buildings. 

The deadline to apply is not until April 21. However, concept papers are due on Jan. 26. These are short 3-to-4-page summaries that provide just the basics of the grant proposal. Please contact your local school board representative and encourage them to submit by the January deadline. 

Ava Curtis

Salt Lake City