Energy Adviser: Shine Green Lights on the future

Published:

 

Did you know you can "pay it forward" on your Clark Public Utilities bill? Signing up for Green Lights funds alternative technologies to reduce the region's overall energy footprint with voluntary contributions in support of renewable energy. As you find ways to lower your utility bill by cutting energy waste, consider using a part of that savings to bring renewable energy and education to Clark County schools.

The utility's Green Lights program offers residential, commercial and industrial customers the opportunity to "pay it forward" for as little as $1.50 a month. Clark Public Utilities partners with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to use Green Lights contributions for development of power from renewable energy projects in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Your contribution is reinvested in next generation nonpolluting and renewable energy resources throughout these regions, including projects right here in partnership with local schools.

Green Lights contributions have helped to fund the local Solar 4R Schools program, which has installed solar photovoltaic panels on seven area schools. Six schools received grants for full photovoltaic installations and instructional materials, while one received instructional materials. Two schools, Sacajawea Elementary and Hudson's Bay High School, have projects in the works. Another at Crestline Elementary is on the drawing board.

"There's a limited amount of funding so the size and availability of grants changes, but any science teacher interested can apply to participate in Solar 4R Schools," said Michelle Missfeldt, senior key accounts manager for Clark Public Utilities and Solar 4R Schools program coordinator.

Last spring, Evergreen school district was the recipient of a Solar 4R Schools grant, which funded a portion of the installation of an 11.0 kilowatt photovoltaic array constructed at the new Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School.

County districts eligible

The array located on the south side of the building not only provides a portion of the electric power for the site, but also shades part of the building from the sun during warmer periods of the year. The photovoltaic panels provide power to the facility by converting solar energy into electrical energy that can be used for lighting, electronics and heating and cooling.

In addition to the panels, Solar 4R Schools provides the district with technology to monitor weather and energy production. The program also provides an educational kiosk inside the school that graphs the amount of energy produced by the solar array in real time, so students and the public can watch it work.

As part of the grant made possible through Clark Public Utilities, the school district received teacher training as well as hands-on renewable energy educational materials for the classroom. The additional resources will help teachers instruct HeLa students about photovoltaic technology and solar energy concepts.

"All school districts in Clark Public Utilities' service territory are encouraged and eligible to apply to participate in Solar 4R Schools," Missfeldt said. Teachers interested in applying for a Solar 4R Schools grant should contact her at 360-992-3109 to learn about the application process and how best to apply for a grant. If selected, the utility will help to coordinate the project scope and installation.

Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to ecod@clarkpud.com or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.