ST. PETERSBURG, United States — Progress Energy Florida is taking renewable energy to schools through a program that will install photovoltaic (PV) solar systems at schools throughout its 35-county service area.

SolarWise for Schools, which supports solar-energy education initiatives for students, will hasten the rate of solar installations at Florida schools for Progress Energy customers if they are enrolled in EnergyWise, an energy management program.

EnergyWise allows the company to cut off power to select electrical equipment, such as pool pumps or water heaters, during peak hours of demand in exchange for monthly credits that can add up to $145 annually.

"Progress Energy Florida has a successful track record of using renewable energy sources to help homes, schools and businesses throughout our service territory generate electricity," Jeff Lyash, Progress Energy's president and CEO, said in a statement. "Environmentally sensitive energy sources, like solar, are part of the company's balanced solution to help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and result in a cleaner environment."

The company already has installed PV systems at 11 schools as part of the SunSmart Schools program partnered by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Solar Energy Center. It expects SolarWise for Schools to significantly expand the use of solar energy throughout the region.

"SolarWise for Schools is a great way for our customers to help educate young minds about the potential of renewable energy sources - like solar - and, at the same time, manage energy wisely," Lyash said. "Through this program, we hope to install a photovoltaic system at every school in our service territory. Informing students about the potential of solar energy is part of our ongoing commitment to renewable resources while meeting the future energy needs of our customers."

Progress Energy Florida is a subsidiary of Progress Energy. Its territory covers nearly 1.7 million customers over more than 20,000 square miles that include St. Petersburg and the Central Florida area surrounding Orlando.