Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Solar Energy Comes to Grain Valley Schools

The first set of solar panels were installed
atop Prairie Branch elementary today.
Construction is underway on a solar-energy system for the rooftops of all elementary schools, middle schools and high school within the Grain Valley School District.  The solar power system rated at 175 kilowatts comes with no up-front cost to the school district, and is expected to save $8500.00 in energy costs first year alone.

The district's partner in this green initiative is Kansas City-based clean-energy company, Brightergy. In total, Brightergy is installing 175 kilowatts of solar power onto the rooftops of seven Grain Valley school buildings, estimated to produce approximately 235,000 kilowatt hours of solar electricity on an annual basis.

Generating that amount of solar electricity annually means offsetting more than 180 tons of carbon dioxide annually. This is the environmental equivalent of the offset of emissions created from burning 18,588 gallons of gasoline, or of recycling 62 tons of waste versus sending it to landfill - annually.

Grain Valley’s students will also be getting access to the performance data of the solar system and bringing solar energy into the conversation of students and community members. Through access to each school’s online monitoring of their solar systems, teachers can turn their solar-powered school buildings into learning labs. Students can gain knowledge and insight about energy and the environment through actual data produced at their school.

Each solar-powered building also receives a kiosk that provides visitors to the school a visualization of how their solar-energy system works, how much energy they are producing, and the impact on their energy savings and the environment.

Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Support Services Marc Snow says the time has come to incorporate solar energy as a part of the student experience while saving the district money, "Improvements in solar technology make it possible to add solar energy to help power our schools and provide hands-on experiences in green energy for our students.  Having a partner like Brightergy makes it possible to put solar panels on our rooftops with no up-front costs to the school district and to save money on energy costs."

“Grain Valley is making an excellent investment in their facilities, and in their students' futures, and we couldn't be more thrilled to help them go solar,” said Brightergy VP of Public Affairs Susan Brown. “They are hedging against rising electricity costs, bettering the environment for the future of their students and community, and providing them with a uniquely interactive educational tool.”

The first panels were installed atop Prairie Branch elementary today.  The new solar-powered system is expected to be fully functional in the next few weeks.