Solar Panels to be installed at Grand Ridge Elementary
December 19, 2011 · Updated 9:43 AM
By JUSTIN BENNETT
UW News Lab
Grand Ridge Elementary School has just received a new grant. But don't look for new books or computers. Instead, the money will bring 22 solar panels to the school. The stationary panels will be mounted to the roof of the school and be used both for electricity and as educational tools.
“While the system will generate free electricity for the school, the purpose of the program is to provide teaching tools that help educate students specifically about energy, the environment, renewable energy and electricity,” said Steve Crawford, director of capital projects at the Issaquah School District via email. “The training and materials will be tailored to grade and state math and science standards.”
According to Crawford’s office, the project is part of a $1.2 million grant donated by the Wal-Mart Foundation through the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED).
The grant will provide solar installations, teacher training and classroom curriculum and kits to schools in five communities: Chicago, Seattle, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, according to Mary Spruill, executive director of the NEED project.
Grand Ridge’s grant is for a 5 kilowatt (kW), roof-mounted, photovoltaic system and “will cover 100 percent of the cost of the installation, the curriculum and staff training,” Crawford said. Three other schools in the greater Seattle area also are receiving grants for similar solar panel projects, according to Spruill.
Crawford’s office also recently applied for a grant through Puget Sound Energy’s Renewable Energy Education Program to install a 1.5 kW wind-power generation system. “Having both a solar PV [photovoltaic] and wind-power generation system at the same site will offer a rich and unique opportunity to collect performance data and develop a rich educational curriculum,” Crawford said.
Winners of grants through that program will be announced in June or July, according to the PSE media desk.
Since expenses for this project are being entirely covered by the Wal-Mart grant , officials in Crawford’s office could not say exactly how much the Grand Ridge School project would cost, but noted that: “a similar project cost approximately $35,000.”
Justin Bennett is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.