Fiedler, Madsen, Harris join Steelton-Highspire High School solar tour

HARRISBURG, April 25 – Today, state Reps. Elizabeth Fiedler, D-Phila.; Dave Madsen, D-Dauphin; and House Democratic Appropriations Chair Jordan Harris, D-Phila.; joined a tour of the solar panel array at Steelton-Highspire High School.

The tour was hosted by Generation 180, a nonprofit organization working to inspire and equip people to adopt clean energy.

Last year, Steelton-Highspire School District unveiled a solar panel field to power the district’s schools and buildings.

Fiedler recently introduced ‘Solar for Schools’ legislation that would create a grant program to fund solar energy projects at school districts, intermediate units, community colleges, and career and technical schools. She said she was pleased to see Steelton-Highspire’s new solar panel field.

“Today, we got to see how much positive change solar panel arrays can bring to schools like Steelton-Highspire,” Fiedler said. “If we pass Solar for Schools legislation, we can save schools thousands each year in energy costs, bring federal money for green energy projects back to Pennsylvania, generate good-paying jobs for skilled workers, reduce pollution, create opportunities for hands-on education, and inspire a new generation of leaders.”

Madsen, whose legislative district includes Steelton-Highspire School District, praised the school’s leadership.

“I am proud of Steelton-High’s leaderships’ decision to embrace solar energy as a sustainable and cost-effective method to power their school,” Madsen said. “I think it’s great that our next generation will get to see first-hand the innovations that will power the world of tomorrow. As we look to reduce pollution, create sustainable careers, and save money on energy costs, solar energy needs to be a part of the conversation.”

Harris called solar energy grants a “winning idea” for Pennsylvania schools.

“Solar energy grants for schools across Pennsylvania is a winning idea on so many levels,” Harris said. “Not only does it put advanced technology in our schools for students to learn from, but it creates clean energy that can help our school districts lower costs and put that money back into education or potentially lower taxes all while creating good, quality union jobs. I appreciate Representative Fiedler’s and Madsen’s advocacy for this and look forward to continued discussions about expanding these grants.”

Generation 180 Pennsylvania Director Shannon Crooker pointed out how schools across the commonwealth would benefit from Fiedler’s Solar for Schools legislation.

“Steelton-Highspire School District is leading by example, creating numerous opportunities for their students, teachers and taxpayers by powering their campus with 100% clean energy. Representative Fiedler's Solar for Schools Grant program will provide a pathway for more Pennsylvania schools to enjoy the many benefits solar offers, including cost savings, hands-on STEM education and job training opportunities. The time is now for Pennsylvania to leverage federal dollars and incentives for our schools, who are training the clean energy workforce of tomorrow. We applaud Representative Fiedler for recognizing the critical role schools play in transitioning to a clean energy economy."

Steelton-Highspire School District Superintendent Mick Iskric offered the following comment on how much the new solar energy project has benefited the school district.

“As an underfunded, urban school district, the Steelton-Highspire School District supports innovative ways to offset expenditures that will directly support our students. Our solar energy project directly offsets 100% of the district’s electric energy use. Utilizing solar to support our Clean School Bus initiative of seven electric school buses will continue the school districts mission to reduce our carbon footprint as well as continue to offset daily expenditures.”

Kevin Busher from the PA School Boards Association spoke and offered praise of Fiedler’s Solar for Schools’ legislation.

“School boards are always looking for ways to be responsible stewards of taxpayer and environmental resources. The Solar for All Schools Grant Program would create a path for districts to take advantage of the savings potential of solar power by providing the resources needed to cover equipment, installation and maintenance,” Busher said.

“This bill would address an area that PSBA members have indicated as a major challenge for their school communities. In the 2023 PSBA State of Education report, nearly three-quarters of respondents noted that their school districts have buildings  in need of major repair or replacement. More than half of school districts reported energy efficiency upgrades as one of their top infrastructure needs, only preceded by HVAC, windows and doors, and roofing. Nearly three-quarters of districts surveyed reported a lack of state resources as the reason for postponing infrastructure investments that would benefit their districts.

“We look forward to working with Representative Elizabeth Fiedler to move this legislation forward,” Busher said.