North Sanpete schools installing solar arrays
Sep 27, 2017
Before long, students at three different schools in North Sanpete County will have their minds, and their classrooms, illuminated in a whole new way.
Thanks to an agreement between Siemens Industry Inc. and Legend Solar, and the help of some grant money, North Sanpete School District is installing solar panels on North Sanpete Middle, Moroni Elementary and Fountain Green Elementary schools.
The plan also includes updating HVAC equipment and other changes to make the schools more energy efficient.
By increasing energy efficiency while also plugging into the power of the sun, North Sanpete is positioning itself to serve as an example to other school districts in the region.
“It shows other schools that we can be more efficient and save them money in the long run,” says Phil McLeod, project manager with Legend Solar.
Although this is the first such project for Legend Solar — working with a school to install solar — members of the Legend Solar team say they hope other educational entities will start to consider what this could mean for them.
“Teachers are never paid enough. You need more money for books and other supplies,” Joseph Barlow, Legend Solar installer, says of the needs of schools throughout the nation. “If the school district can save money on power, it would open up a lot of money in the budget for other things.”
When you consider the budgetary possibilities, it already feels like a win-win. But wait, there’s more.
In conjunction with the solar panels that will be installed on the roof and as ground mounts at the three North Sanpete schools, there is another element: An educational component.
Legend Solar will provide the schools with a working skid that uses three solar panels running into an inverter. The skid is similar to the one they currently use for demonstrations at trade shows, trainings and other events.
Students and teachers will be able to plug into an outlet (powered by the sun) that will generate around 1,500 watts. It’s enough to power a freezer, charge your phone, even run a computer if the power was down.
“The students get pretty excited about it,” Barlow says. “It’s always neat to see something working without being plugged in.”
According to the national Energy Department web site, www.energy.gov, other classrooms around the nation have found ways to incorporate solar power as an educational component in students’ curriculum. For example, learning the basics of solar PV panels and how much power the sun could provide each day if captured by these panels. Another example, is from a fourth grade class in North Carolina, where they built their own model of how a solar array captures the sun’s power and translates it into energy to power their classroom.
Energy.gov suggests other ways to keep students engaged in learning about solar energy, such as building a solar oven. The educational array provided by Legend Solar to the schools in North Sanpete County School District is another way to make learning hands-on and fun while saving the school district money.
Lisa Larson is a freelance writer covering a wide range of topics. Read more at www.lisaglarson.com or follow at www.facebook.com/larsonlisa or on Twitter @LisaGLarson