SE Iowa school district to become first powered almost entirely by solar


Principal Jeff Nance stands by one of four sets of solar panels at WACO High School in Wayland. This set operates lights for the school's football field. (John Gaines/The Hawk Eye)
Principal Jeff Nance stands by one of four sets of solar panels at WACO High School in Wayland. This set operates lights for the school’s football field. (John Gaines/The Hawk Eye)

Nick Fetty | June 5, 2015

The WACO Community School District in southeast Iowa may soon be the state’s first to be almost completely powered by solar energy.

This summer construction is expected to begin on a solar farm behind the junior-senior high school building in Wayland. In January the district installed a large solar collector behind the elementary school building in Crawfordsville. School district officials expect that these two project will provide about 90 percent of the district’s electricity needs. Superintendent Darrell Smith estimates the initial project has already saved the district about $20,000. He said his hope is that these projects will serve as not just a clean source of energy for the district but also as a learning opportunity for the students.

“It makes it meaningful when they can see what’s happening and it makes a difference when you talk about science and green power and then say ‘Let’s go look at it,’” he said in an interview with KCRG.

The initial solar system was funded by a one-cent local option tax. The district worked with the Department of Education to procure funding for the second project which was possible through private investors. Both projects took advantage of solar tax credits. On especially sunny days, the panels are expected to generate roughly 110 percent of the district’s electricity needs with the excess energy being solar back to the utility company. Work on the second project is expected to begin in July.

The WACO Community School District serves approximately 500 students in Crawfordsville, Wayland, and the surrounding areas in Henry County.

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