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From installing panels on rooftops to buying into solar gardens, south-metro school districts are investing in solar energy.

In 2014, Waconia High School put 96 solar panels on its new gymnasium roof, and the West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan district plans to place solar panels on two schools next summer.

The Farmington school board approved installing solar panels on five district buildings last month, with plans to outfit all nine buildings.

The energy savings on just those five structures will total $77,760 annually, but if the district eventually buys the panels as planned, energy bills would be reduced by $7 million over 20 years, said Jane Houska, Farmington’s finance director.