Utah Schools To Get Lots Of Solar Panels

Photovoltaic solar-power systems are going in at at least one campus in each of Utah’s 41 school districts, thanks to a $3 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant. At 5 kilowatts apiece they won’t produce an outrageous amount of electricity, but the point of the program is more to educate and inspire children — and their parents, too.

“Everybody who drives by this school, everybody who comes to this school is going to see those solar panels,” U.S. Department of Energy advisor Gilbert Sperling told the Salt Lake Tribune, referring to Hillside Middle School in Salt Lake City, the first to have photovoltaic panels installed. “They’re going to take a look at this and say, ‘You know, this is what we ought to be doing.'”

Photovoltaic panels, Salt Lake City, Utah schools

image via Salt Lake City School District

Along with installing the solar systems, the state is running a Solar for Schools program that teaches about renewable energy technologies through interactive projects. According to the Salt Lake City School District, students will be able to do things such as track their school’s solar-power data and compare it to the data from other schools. Through the National Energy Foundation, 200 teachers from kindergarten through high school will be trained on integrating education about renewables into “science, technology, social studies, math and language arts lessons.”

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.