SHERIDAN, Ind. — A rural central Indiana school district said it expects to save millions of dollars over the next 20 years by getting all of its electricity from solar power.

The Indianapolis Business Journal ( ) reported that Sheridan Community Schools now has an array of about 5,900 solar panels between its elementary, middle and high school buildings.

Superintendent Dave Mundy said the move will allow the district to have more control over its utility costs.

“It’s something any school should look into,” Mundy said. “Balancing a budget and trying to (estimate) the utilities cost is the hardest thing to do in school finance.”

The district has spent about $290,000 yearly on electricity and recently learned that its rates would rise between 4 percent and 7 percent in 2017. It now will pay a $290,000 loan payment on the solar panels for the next 20 years.

“Our loan is equivalent to a locked-in electrical bill,” Mundy said. “The money that would have been spent on increased utility costs will go directly back into the classroom.”

According to Mundy, there was no capital cost to set up the system, and it is being completely financed by the loan.

The entire system is expected to last about 40 years, according to Bob McKinney, president of Johnson-Melloh. Johnson-Melloh installed the solar panels and will provide maintenance. The company also set up computer monitors in the classrooms so students can monitor the solar panels each day and see how much energy they’re producing and putting into the electrical grid.

“Our kids have done a lot of research,” Mundy said. “They’re very involved in everything we’re doing.”

The district, which has about 1,000 students total, has a 1.8 megawatt system expected to produce about 2.2 million kilowatt hours of power.

Information from: Indianapolis Business Journal,