SOLAR POWER INSTALLATION GRANT FOR SCHOOLS

Puget Sound Energy awards solar power grant to local high schools

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In the next few months USA- Hazen and Liberty high school students will gain specific renewable energy knowledge through a custom curriculum and a solar panel demonstration project, thanks to a grant from Puget Sound Energy in partnership with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

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Six area schools have each received a grant of $26,700 last month from PSE. A portion of each grant will pay for the design and installation of a 1.5kW solar array at each school, as well as monitoring software that allows the students to track how much electrical energy the solar arrays are producing. The grant will cover classroom curriculum, teacher training and renewable energy materials provided by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

The school district will contribute an additional kilowatt of capacity, increasing the size of the demonstration project to 2.5kW. The additional cost will be quickly recovered in the form of a credit from PSE as the power generated goes directly back into the utility’s grid, said J. Stine, of the Renton School District’s Resource Conservation Management Office.

The solar panels will be installed at the top of the south wall of the Hazen Performing Arts Center on custom-fabricated metal racks. The location and angle of the solar panels will make them highly visible, while maximizing southern exposure and electrical power output. Another visible feature of the project will be the installation of an LED wall-mounted exterior lighting demonstration project in the adjacent courtyard. The lights will use the equivalent power generated from the solar arrays as a tangible example of the solar-produced power.

At 1.5kW, each solar array will generate enough power, on average, to operate 15 notebook computers for 1,000 hours.

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In addition to the solar panels, the grant supports the purchase of inverters to connect renewable energy generators to each school’s electrical system, monitoring software, as well as teaching, training and lesson plans developed by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation as part of its Solar 4R Schools program.

School districts qualifying for the Solar Schools program submitted grant applications earlier this year detailing their educational goals, how their project would bring renewable energy technologies and what steps would be taken to increase community awareness of the potential for using renewable energy technologies.

Since 2004, PSE has funded the installation of systems at Western Washington University, Interlake High School in Bellevue, and the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. Neighboring Hazen High School in Renton was among the schools receiving a grant this year.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 23rd June 2009

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