Lexington City school saves money and the environment with solar panels

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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ7) You can't tell by looking at Lylburn-Downing Middle School but up above the gymnasium and cafeteria are solar panels generating 25% of the school’s annual electricity requirements.

The panels will also save the school district $3,800 a year.

“For our operating budget, every little bit of savings helps in the long run and so we're excited to see that fruits of that labor and savings every year,” says Superintendent Scott Jefferies.

“It's just rather bizarre we're having a solar panel dedication day on cloudy day. But that's what we call letting the panels rest,” says Secure Futures CEO Tony Smith as he addresses the school board Monday night.

He discussed the benefits of the panels, saying it’s more than just saving money and the environment.

“It creates jobs in the production of the solar panels because we use only American made panels and American made equipment. It creates jobs for engineers, local electricians,” says Smith.

Lexington City's mayor Mimi Elrod says the first talks of solar panels in the city started in 2011.

“It's giving a message to our community as a whole that this is important and we really need to participate in it as much as we can,” says Elrod.

Since September, the panels have generated almost 18,000 kilowatts of power.

That's enough to charge almost 745 electric cars or more than 3 million smartphones.

And the panels will keep generating power for the 35-40 years.

“I would certainly encourage any school system that is approached with this opportunity to take is seriously and explore all possibilities of getting is somewhere on their campus or school system,” says Jefferies.

The school will also a have solar picnic table installed in their courtyard.

It will give students a more hands on experience with the solar panels, because they'll be able to charge their phones and tablets right from the picnic table.