The Toms River Regional School District looks to the sun for it's energy and makes some additional upgrades in the process. It's being called an ambitious green energy project because they were one of the first in the state to take on such a task.

A total of thirteen buildings in the district, 11 school and 2 other buildings, are getting solar panels that will significantly cut the utility bill and allow them to generate some additional revenues. In addition, the roofs have been replaced, something that would have taken several years to do and cost upwards of 5 million dollars.

School Superintendent Frank Roselli is excited about the project. He feels it's really a win-win for everyone. He says "the project benefits the environment, the taxpayers and the students. The money that will be saved on the roofing projects will be used in our budget that will go towards the student's education. It's a great education tool as well."

Special kiosks are set up at the district schools so the students can learn how the panels work, the benefits of going green and how saving money for their folks can be beneficial to a household budget.

Roselli adds "by being proactive, 40 percent of the electric costs will be purchased at a rate well below market value."

The first part of the solar panel project was finished in 2004 as part of the Smart Schools Initiative. At that time, only seven district buildings got the panels. The savings have totaled more than 2 million dollars through the sale of renewable energy credits. When this part is done, the district will have a 6.2 megawatt system.

Mercury Solar Systems, Inc. is the firm responsible for installing the solar panels. As long as mother nature continues to cooperate, they expect the work to be completed later this month or sometime in January.