The Energy We Use

The majority of the energy we use in America comes from burning fossil fuels. Our consumption of these limited resources is a leading force in our current climate change problems. Encouraging staff and students to understand that at this time, energy use equates to air pollution, and that conservation of energy is the quickest way to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions.

Here are some of the energy efficiency upgrades BC has made in the district for the 2017-18 school year:

  • LED lighting upgrades to interior and exterior of all district buildings
  • Energy-saving motion detector switches in all buildings
  • New windows at Elsmere Elementary School
  • Energy-efficient heating units for swimming pools at the high school and middle school
  • High-efficiency boiler installations at the high school
  • Insulating of all hot water pipes in all buildings
  • Building envelope improvements in all buildings (weather-stripping all doors, filling ceiling gaps, general insulation)
  • High-efficiency transformer replacements at Eagle Elementary School and the high school

This subcommittee is led by the district’s Director of Facilities and Operations, Gregg Nolte, and will look at the energy use of each of our buildings and develop ways to encourage conservation. It will also look at renewable energy technologies and grants that may be available to the district. This committee will look for ways to share this information as well as identify other energy saving practices and/or technologies.

group of people pose with electric bus

BC is first NY district to purchase electric buses

The Bethlehem Central School District is the first school district in New York state to purchase electric school buses. Five electric school buses will become part of the district’s bus fleet in the 2021-22 school year.

The district’s goal is to convert at least 50% of its school bus fleet from diesel to electric over the next 10 years.

In 2021, Bethlehem was awarded $1 million in federal/state grants to help advance its clean energy goals for student transportation. The district received voter approval to begin the transition to zero-emission school buses on the condition it could secure the funding for the initial electric bus purchase.

The district will begin with charging infrastructure for the five electric buses and plans to expand that infrastructure to accommodate up to 25 electric buses by 2025.

Exploring Solar

After years of streamlining energy use in the district, Bethlehem Central is now exploring the implementation of solar energy.

Bethlehem Central School District completed a Request for Proposals process in May 2015 for a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system to provide solar energy to the district for the majority of its energy use. 

The proposal estimates that the district will save $6.58 million over the course of 25 years by implementing solar energy.


Q. What is a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement)?

A. A legal agreement between the district and the solar developer to buy electric  power over a period of time.

Q. Are there any start-up or future costs to the district?
A. No.

Q. What is Remote Net Metering?
A. For solar arrays NOT connected to school property, allows the district’s electric bill to be credited for the solar energy added to the grid.

Q. Are there any development incentives offered?
A. YES, NYS Energy Research & Development Agency has a MW Block Incentive program (approx. $0.28/W produced).

Q. How much property is needed for a 2.1 MW solar array system? 
A. Approx. 12 – 15 acres

Q. How much of the district’s electric usage will be accommodated by the off-site solar array?
A. Approx. 85%