Some of us have often gazed at that expanse of metal covering the roof at Griffin School and have thought how wonderful it would be if there were photovoltaic and hot water panels, up there. We’ve imagined a time when the school building could “spin its electric meter backward,” particularly during the summer months, to both generate power for use by the customers of Puget Sound Energy and to help defray the District’s electrical expenses, during the school year. Solar technology continues to advance and the price of the equipment is continuing to decline. If Referendum Bill 52 passes, this November (click here for for a PDF file containing details about that Referendum), the funding to help make such a dream come true could become available. From the Griffin School District, we recently received this notice:
Griffin School District has made several adjustments to address rising electric and utility costs. The Griffin School Board supports ecologically sustainable practices that will help preserve the environment for current and future generations. It is the goal of the district to develop conservation measures around the concepts of reuse, reduce, recycle as well as water and energy conservation. As part of these continued measures, in February of 2010, Griffin staff worked with South Sound Solar to submit a grant to PSE for a Solar Power Demonstration Station. The grant was submitted with three things in mind . . .
1) to have solar modules installed at the school in a highly visible location;
2) to provide detailed classroom curriculum which is supported by an extensive renewable energy sci-ence kit and teacher training enabling many hours of hands on student experiences; and
3) to show a working solar power demonstration system to our staff and community members.
In May Puget Sound Energy awarded the Griffin School District grant funding in the amount of $14,500 to install the photovoltaic (PV) monitoring equipment and implement educational activities. Over the summer, district staff worked to have six solar modules installed just outside the main entry of the school. The modules were installed atop the SW corner of the main building and zero maintenance landscaping was put in to allow easy access to the viewing area of the modules. Visitors can meander through a rock path, on their way to learn about solar power. Students and community members will be able to access the solar information generated by this demonstration station in the classroom and online. In addition, community members will be able to see solar power in action via the web based program.
“Puget Sound Energy is Washington State’s oldest local energy utility and provides electric and nat-ural gas service to more than 1.2 million customers, primarily in the Puget Sound Region.” PSE has created a “Renewable Energy Education Program” (formerly the Solar Schools Program). This grant program is designed to increase the visibility of renewable energy, provide students with valuable educational opportunities, and is for educational facilities that have demonstrated a commitment to energy efficiency and are ready to expand their educational experience and opportunities with renewable electricity generation. Griffin’s Solar Power Demonstration Station is the first in 2010 to be completed and is the 13th educational facility to join PSE’s family of solar demonstration projects.
Stay tuned for the month of September when Griffin Elementary will have a dedication ceremony for the 1 kw solar power demonstration station.
Solar power does work in Washington State!
We commend the Griffin School District for receiving this grant and installing this demonstration station at the school. We imagine a time, in the not-too-distant future, when local generation of electricity and solar hot water is what’s done by most of our homes and businesses.
You should remember that installing the solar panel once is actually like you are paying up front for several years’ electricity.