New Jersey schools continue to excel in the application of solar energy, and it's saving many districts in the state taxpayer dollars, officials say.

The Washington-based Solar Energy Industries Association says Jersey schools were second in the nation in solar installations as of 2014.

Janet Bamford of the New Jersey School Boards Association said schools lower their energy bills and save money: "New Jersey has been a real leader in this and we should all be really proud of it."

She said one way to measure the trend among Jersey schools going solar is the number that have signed up to participate in Sustainable Jersey for Schools.

Schools undertake various "green" actions to earn points toward certification. Since the program's 2014 launch, 234 New Jersey districts have signed up — a total of 582 schools.

Bamford said many New Jersey schools that have gone solar have also incorporated related measures into their science and math lessons, at the elementary or secondary level, "so it can have educational benefits as well."

In Mercer County, The Lawrenceville School has the nation's largest school solar array, at 6.1 megawatts.

"We are going into our fifth year of its service and we have really been pleased with its production," school dustainability director Sam Kossoff said. Kossoff said the school's  solar panel array on a 30-acre field adjacent to the campus supplies the school with about 90 percent of its electric needs.

South Hunterdon Regional High School is one of the latest Jersey schools to go solar, thanks to a new solar field near the school and a power-purchase Agreement with the company that installed the array. A report from Sustainable Jersey for Schools says the Medford Board of Education is saving that school district an estimated $300,000 a year in utility costs.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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