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Schools Roundup: Solar in Haiti; Energy Efficiency Behavior, Wind Turbine

Linda Hardesty

NRG Energy successfully completed its “The Sun Lights the Way” project in the Boucan Carre region of Haiti. The program entailed the installation of solar electric systems at 20 schools, as well as a fish farm and a drip irrigation system supporting agricultural production throughout Haiti’s Central Plateau region, through collaboration with the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), a nonprofit organization.

The installations were funded by a $1 million commitment made by NRG through the Clinton Global Initiative and $500,000 from the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. Trina Solar, a manufacturer of solar photovoltaic products, donated all of the solar panels installed on the schools. The project helps to improve the quality of education for more than 6,000 Haitian students by providing the electricity needed to power lights, communication systems, laptop computers and other school equipment in a remote area of the country.

New Jersey’s Readington Township School District has set a goal is to achieve a 10-percent reduction in annual energy use and work toward an Energy Star award from the Environmental Protection Agency. The K-8 school district will implement the Schools for Energy Efficiency (SEE) program, which teaches behavioral changes and low-cost strategies to lower energy expenses. The SEE program was created in 2002 to help school districts develop a culture of energy efficiency.

In Woodstock, Va., Central High School installed a 55-foot-tall wind turbine capable of generating 2.4 kW at peak wind speeds of 8 to 12 miles per hour, although Woodstock’s average wind speed is only 4 miles per hour, according to NVDaily.com.

A computer in Central’s cafeteria will provide real time data, for view by students, about the wind speeds and amount of electricity generated. The school got funding for the turbine from the Moore Educational Trust and the Dominion Foundation. It took some time to obtain a permit for the smaller-scale wind turbine because there were no ordinances in place that addressed such a project.

In California, the Woodland Joint Unified School District will install more than 3,900 solar panels totaling 924 kW at Freeman, Plainfield and Zamora Elementary Schools and also at Pioneer High School. Through a power purchase agreement with SolarCity, the district incurred no upfront costs for the project and is expected to save more than $70,000 in the systems’ first year of operation and more than $910,000 over their lifetime.

SolarCity will provide free installation, maintenance and ongoing monitoring of the systems. Students will have access to SolarCity’s web-based monitoring – PowerGuide – which allows customers to track in real-time how much power their solar systems are generating and how much electricity their schools are using. The district has decreased its energy consumption by more than 30 percent over the past four years, qualifying as an EPA Energy Star Leader Top Performer.



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