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Student-Led Solar Project Lights Up Jackson Hole, WY

Friday night lights getting a solar boost

By Brielle Schaeffer, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
October 19, 2012

When the Jackson Hole High School Broncs play Star Valley tonight, lights at the football stadium will be aided by solar energy.

A group of high school students, the Students for Sustainability, came up with the idea to install solar panels on the new concession stand at the William T. McIntosh Stadium. The students worked with nonprofit InterConnections 21 and Jackson Hole Energy Sustainability Project to make the project happen. 

“We wanted to create tangible change and make a difference, and we did it in six months,” Students for Sustainability co-president Erin Weiss said.

The club will be recognized during halftime at the football game.

The project was completed on time and on budget, Weiss said. 

Jackson Town Council approved up to $50,000 from the 1-cent specific purpose excise tax to pay for the panels. Teton County School District No. 1 Board of Education approved a contract for the installation by Creative Energies. 

“It’s significant for Jackson Hole Energy Sustainability Project to use the SPET dollars, taxpayer-generated dollars, for a project proposed by students,” Energy Project executive director Shelley Simonton said. “These are the kind of projects we’re looking for to save energy in the community.”

Forty-eight panels were installed on the concession stand for the 11.8-kilowatt system, Weiss said.

The panels are expected to generate 17,000 kilowatt-hours a year, equal to the power consumed by the scoreboard and lights. The solar panels will not power the lights and scoreboard directly but will feed energy into the grid, Simonton explained.

The project has already been used for teaching high school students about energy consumption.

“A few solar panels on the roof is really teaching a lot of people about renewable energy,” Simonton said.

The 17-member Students for Sus-tainability will now focus on phase two of the project, the club’s other co-president, MacKenzie Moore, said. 

The second phase, planned for next year, would augment the solar panels and power the whole concession stand. Students will monitor electrical use of the concession stand this year, she said.

“It’s really exciting,” Moore said about seeing the project come to fruition. “We spent so much time over this summer and this year working on it.”

The project should save the district about $1,000 each year, Simonton has said.

In 2010, voters allocated $3.78 million in SPET funds to make public buildings energy efficient.

Source: JH News and Guide 

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