Thomas Van Cleef has launched a nonprofit corporation that aims to place solar panels on Worthington schools.

Thomas Van Cleef has launched a nonprofit corporation that aims to place solar panels on Worthington schools.

With donations from companies and individuals, he hopes to allow seven schools to eventually receive free power from the sun.

Solar, a Worthington-based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, was created specifically to fund and install large-scale solar on facilities for schools, colleges, other nonprofits, hospitals, and other community locations.

So far, he has collected the $15,000 needed to place the panels on the Linworth Alternative school, which will be the first project, he said.

Second will be McCord Middle School. Some funds have been collected toward that project, he said.

Other schools on his list are Colonial Hills, Slate Hill, and Worthington Hills elementary schools, Phoenix Middle School, and Worthington Kilbourne High School.

Each project will cost approximately $50,000, but will save the schools approximately $100,000 over the life of the panels, which is estimated at 50 years. The Linworth project will be less expensive because the school is smaller than the others.

Van Cleef founded Solar Vision, which installed solar panels on Evening Street Elementary School in March 2010. It was the first school in Ohio to receive panels able to provide power for the whole school.

Part of the aim of the program is to teach children about alternative power sources so they will become better at conserving, he said.

Once the panels are installed, no maintenance is necessary, he said.

He has talked to parents, science teachers, and Worthington administrators about the project. The schools welcome the gift of solar systems at no cost to taxpayers, he said.

"It is a gift," said Van Cleef.

Businesses will probably provide most of the donations needed to build the systems, he said. Some might primarily want to support solar power, others might want the tax deductions, and some might want the naming rights to a solar array on a particular school, he said.

"I don't expect large amounts of money to come from the parents," he said.

Fundraising via the Solar website is under way for the seven schools.