October 1, 2020 • The Batesville Daily Guard

Right place, right time

Dr. Michael Hester, superintendent of Batesville School District, was a keynote speaker at an online event Thursday hosted by Generation180, which is a national nonprofit from Virginia. October is National Energy Awareness Month.

“We were the state’s largest efficiency project when we started. Since then a lot of others have come on board with solar,” Hester said.

In 2018, he initiated Arkansas’ largest energy waste reduction initiative and the state’s first school district solar panel project.

Generation180 wants to “flip the energy script” by providing resources for support to help all school access the benefits of solar, educate consumers, and turn electric vehicle owners into advocates for solar.

Hester spoke about the district’s solar savings during the event.

“We were guaranteed to save $2 million over 20 years and we’re on pace to double that,” Hester said.

Tisha Tablan, program director for Generation180 said they’d like to see solar for all schools.

School districts are good candidates for solar because they typically are on large acreages of land, have flat roofs, are in every community, and are influential.

The benefit for the schools is multifold.

Batesville School District uses to pay employees a competitive wage and provides raises and bonuses. Another benefit of having a solar array is using it to educate students about solar and getting them interested in clean energy careers.

Hester said an important thing for any school district to consider when thinking about going solar, is to partner with a reputable firm for the project.

“We were in the right place at the right time,” Hester said.

Hester began his educational career in Oklahoma, teaching English and speech while coaching and owning a construction company.