Al Kennedy High School [AKHS] educators are charged up about the school’s potential renewable energy opportunities.
Through EPUD’s GREEN (Giving Renewable Energy to Emerald Neighborhoods) Grant, local nonprofit organizations and schools can win up to $40,000 this year to help a build renewable energy project. Past winners of the grant have included Creswell Food Pantry, Lost Valley Education and Event Center, Pleasant Hill School District, Mid Lane Cares and The Love Project Food Pantry.
AKHS is reaching out to the community in hopes of becoming this year’s winner.
“We earn the grant by GREEN Subscribers voting. We would love to get the word out so that folks will vote for our solar panel grant,” said AKHS Principal Kim Scrima.
GREEN Subscribers pay slightly more on their EPUD bills to fund the GREEN Grant and can subscribe to the program on the company’s website.
Voting is currently underway and will continue until July 10.
If voting goes in its favor, AKHS is eyeing a solar panel array to become part of the school’s educational and electrical system. With some help from students, installation of the solar power system would be done by Advanced Energy Systems by way of the grant funding.
A notable benefit of the project is that it will allow the AKHS students the opportunity for hands-on experience in the growing field of solar energy.
Part of the high school’s mission is to set students on career paths and Advanced Energy Systems has said it will provide students access to each stage of the system’s installment.
“So it’s getting kids exposed to these different kinds of jobs and getting their interest in those green careers,” said Jessica Martinez, a teacher at AKHS and advisor of the school’s Green Team. “And it may be something that they’ve never thought about doing before, but then when they get to be part of it, they think, ‘Oh, wow, this is actually kind of cool.’”
The solar power system, an Osprey PowerPlatform, boasts a rapid 16-day installation period and fits into the approach the school has taken on education.
“I really like that they’re involving the students in this because that’s the thing about Kennedy — we’re a really hands-on school,” said Martinez. “They get a chance to work on it and help be a part of it. It’s an ownership.”
In keeping with its green spirit, the school has already implemented compost and water catchment systems as well.
“It’s all just a part of our school culture,” said Martinez. “And so having these solar panels will introduce that as another part of our school culture of sustainability.”
Students would also be able to monitor and track the production of the solar array over time through a web-based monitoring system.
Additionally, the school recently became an “entry-level Green School” through the Oregon Green School program. By signing on with the project, Martinez is hopeful AKHS can work its way up the ladder to the program’s premier level.
“It would be very easy for our school to become a zero-waste school,” she said.
On top of educational opportunities, a solar array would feed back into the grid and is estimated to be able to save 10,759 kWh and $855.37 in its first year of operation.
Over the solar array’s 35-year lifespan, it would save a total of $56,806, according to an Advanced Energy Systems projection.
Meanwhile, the high school is also applying for a Career and Technical Education program under its Agricultural, Food, and Natural Resource curriculum, which would work in tandem with the solar project to use renewable energy in growing, processing and storing natural resources.
With the school increasing its access to career and technical-based education curricula, AKHS educators view the potential project as the next step in the school’s growth.
“It seems to me such a natural fit,” said Martinez. “It’s who we are and it would fit so perfectly.”
EPUD customers can find more information about becoming GREEN Subscriber on the company’s website at https://www.epud.org/my-account/green-programs.