DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — The Steelton-Highspire school district is taking the lead in energy independence. It officially unveiled the solar field powering its schools and buildings in May.

There are thousands of solar panels stretching across a field right next to both school buildings. The panels now provide 100% of the district’s electricity. Superintendent Mick Iskric said the idea came up as a way to save money.

“Our taxpayers are strained as it is,” he said.

The solar field took about a year and a half to complete. The project finished in late 2021 with a total of 3,900 panels. “The first 13 years, it’s going to save roughly $16,000 per year,” Iskric said. Over about 20 years, Iskric said it will save the district about $3.6 million.

“It’s always gratifying to see a project go from concept to completion,” Shayne Homan, vice president with McClure Company, said.

The district partnered with McClure Company to have the solar panels built and installed.

“It’s actually a former landfill,” Homan said of the land. “It’s otherwise not usable land for construction.”

McClure Company is footing the bill, but with the savings for the district, the project eventually pays for itself.

“No capital cost to the district. It’s about a $3 million investment on the McClure Company’s side,” Homan said.

It is not just about the money though. Iskric said the new solar panels are a tool in the classroom, too.

“Our elementary and high schools have TVs located in them that have real-time data,” he said. “It also shows the number of trees being saved.”

He hopes this is a model for other Midstate schools. “Other districts are asking us, and I know McClure has already engaged other districts,” he said.

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For Steelton, it is a win for the community and the environment.

“Any way that we can save the taxpayers and community money and still offer a more green footprint, that’s what we’re going to do,” Iskric said.

After the 13-year partnership with McClure, the district will have full ownership of the solar panels. Iskric said they expect to save even more money once that happens.