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Solar array at school recognized as pollinator-friendly

March 3, 2020 GMT

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A solar array at a Virginia elementary school is the first to receive the highest possible designation under under a new program that encourages pollinator-friendly solar development.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation announced Monday that Cople Elementary School in Westmoreland County had been awarded a Gold Certified Pollinator Smart Project label.

The program includes recommendations to plan, build and monitor solar facilities that attract pollinators, lessen stormwater impacts and increase the visual appeal of the installations, according to the department. A key focus is the use of Virginia native plant species.

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Charlottesville-based Sun Tribe installed the project. The company said in a news release that the ground-mounted solar system meets 100 percent of the school’s energy needs and will save Westmoreland County Public Schools an estimated $3.6 million in energy costs.

“There’s no question that solar helps saves money for school districts throughout Virginia, but we thought it was important to show that you can use solar to support your budget while also being a leader in environmental innovation,” said Sun Tribe Solar CEO Devin Welch said in a statement.