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Student-Led Fundraising Initiatives Resulted in Successful Solar School Project

Solar panels working well; reminder of successful schoolwide effort


The solar collection grid installed atop the Chisago Lakes Middle School is running at about the expected capacity and energy production levels hoped for when the special project was installed approximately two years ago. The panels are visible on the Highway 8 side of the middle school. As a schoolwide project, students focused on fundraising for nearly two years to make the solar array a reality. The power generation grid started being charted on a special computer program February 3, 2011. In its first 18 months the solar array has kept 24,372 pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere, by redirecting electric power back into the grid. This is also the equivalent to 35,000 miles of vehicle exhaust. Chisago Lakes Buildings & Grounds Supervisor Tim Burton said the savings is amounting to about 8,000 kilowatts annually which is going back into the power network of the district and reducing the energy bills. Burton explained that the school website will display the “sold” quantity of power attributed to the solar panels, which isn’t actually being sold– but is helping to offset the district’s energy consumption. Overall there’s been about $1,000 not spent on energy thanks to the solar array. Burton noted that the big thing with this project was that it didn’t cost the district anything, and “the kids made it happen.” He said they had a special opportunity to be part of an inclusive classroom science and community service lesson. And, now, whenever a former middle school kid sees those solar panels they are reminded of how they made the installation happen. Burton said there are very tentative plans to possibly expand the solar power supply at some point, but for now the project is just doing its thing.

Source: Chisago County Press 

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