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School district looking to power up with solar

Southern Columbia is the latest school district to look into powering its buildings with renewable energy.

CATAWISSA, Pa. — Sports practice fields at the Southern Columbia Area School District could soon be turned into solar panels if the school board and the Department of Environmental Protection approve the decision next month.

"Looking around at what other school districts were doing, solar was an idea that we explored," said Columbia Area Superintendent James Becker.

Becker says the district was looking for ways to cut costs. While this is still in the planning stages, Becker says solar panels could save the district a lot of money.

"Estimated over 30 years, $2.5 million. If you break it down over 30 years, it's not a lot every year, but that's including paying for electric bills," Becker said.

The proposed solar array was designed by a company out of Lebanon County, which says the panels would power all the school district's buildings. Southern Columbia could sell off the excess electricity. The solar array would take up about six acres of the district's sports practice fields.

"We'll have to look at and find places for the teams that are going to be displaced from these solar arrays, find places for them to practice," Becker said.

Becker says the school board meets next month.

"If it gets approved in April or May, it should be soon that we'll be able to have presentations and things moving forward," Becker said.

If approved, the solar array could be installed as early as next year.

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