Thursday, May 19, 2005

Future Plans for the Co-op....

One of the most prevalent and available alternative energy sources is solar energy. Once installed, solar energy provides clean energy without any byproducts or pollutants. By installing a solar panel system on at our school we cannot only produce our own energy, thereby becoming less dependent on energy companies, while also minimizing our carbon emissions. Indeed it is the only viable alternative that is available for the school. Unlike wind power, solar requires only direct sunlight. Because most of the energy would be collected during the summer months, the school would implement a net-metering system, where we roll back the energy meters for energy produced and sold back to Green Mountain Power. The credits from this energy would then be used during the winter months to buy the necessary energy to maintain the school. Because of this method, we will not contribute pollution that is typical in most solar projects from their battery leakage.

Using the numbers from last year, the school requires approximately 171,900-kilowatt hours of energy. Given our decreased demand from our energy-saving initiatives, that number could be lower for the coming year. The initial quoted price for a solar system for 100% energy was $400,000 in March. The demand for solar panels has not been keeping up with production. This is a daunting price for a small independent school and the process of designing, funding and building the system will begin during the fall semester. We will begin to look for funding from foundations and institutions that have strong commitment to the environment and learning.

The initial estimated space for solar panels is about 15,000 square feet with southern exposure. Because our school has a large west/east sloping roofs, we are seeking an off campus area to build our energy system. We are excited about this project and will be continuing it next year as well as writing grant proposals during the summer.

Kyler 11th Grade.


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