Now in its 16th year, the nationally recognized renewable energy education program will have 48 of the 63 high schools in the WPS electric service area as full participants in the WPS SolarWise for Schools program.
“We are very excited about being selected to join the SolarWise program,” said Principal James Bouche of Lakeland Union High School. The new solar panels and curriculum will complement the existing environmental science course and the technical education program. “There is a strong environmental awareness culture here and we want to be known as a green school.”
SolarWise is the only program in the country that provides a fully functional photovoltaic system to each school, along with a complete science based renewable energy curriculum, trains the teachers that use the program and hosts an annual student competition for participating SolarWise Schools.
Each school is provided with a 2-kilowatt solar electric system that can power the lighting in three averaged sized classrooms, saving about $350 in energy costs each year. The total equipment, installation and data reporting system has about a $30,000 value.
Funds for the SolarWise program, including those used for the solar-electric hardware and installations, comes primarily from voluntary donations made by customers of Wisconsin Public Service to the WPS Community Foundation. Currently about 3,000 customers contribute.
“The positive environmental impacts from generating electricity using the sun are obvious,” said Mike Moore of Wisconsin Public Service. “But perhaps, the biggest impact is having teens get actual hands-on, practical, real-life experience in the application of solar energy for functioning projects,” added Moore. “It’s important to support these students as someday they may be the decision makers in determining our energy future.”
As part of the SolarWise for Schools program, all the selected schools are eligible to participate in the Annual “Solar Olympics,” a one-day event scheduled for early May 2013 at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. The event gives students the opportunity to compete in the twelve solar “events” against teams from other schools. Events range from building solar-powered water heaters, cookers and race cars to designing sculptures and composing essays and photography with a solar theme.
The WPS Community Foundation is a private, nonprofit charitable organization providing information and options for renewable energy. Through SolarWise for Schools and the annual Solar Olympics, the Foundation actively works to preserve the environment for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. Contributions to the WPS Community Foundation are tax deductible, to the extent allowed by law.
For more information, visit wisconsinpublicservice.com, or by call (800) 450-7260.