OH school district first in US to install large-scale wind and solar

Submitted by NexGen Energy Press
2010-05-21 21:11:51

Hundreds of schools across the country have installed commercial-scale photovoltaic systems on campus to generate on-site power and educate students about renewable energy. A handful of schools have installed commercial-scale wind turbines to do the same thing.

But no school has yet to employ commercial-scale equipment to harness electricity from both the sun and the wind –until now.

This month, workers begin installing the first panels of two new solar systems for the Upper Scioto Valley School District in McGuffey, Ohio. Expected to generate 169,000 kilowatt hours of clean electricity each year, the solar systems will function alongside two 100 kW wind turbines installed in the athletic fields behind the school last year.

"Schools systems around the country are experiencing the benefits of renewable energy," said Ian Baring-Gould, Senior Research Supervisor, Wind Technology Deployment with the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. "With a commercial scale solar facility going operational to match a commercial scale wind installation, Upper Scioto Valley School District is setting the standard for harnessing renewables for its power and its students."

Together, the wind and solar systems should meet more than 40% of the district's annual energy needs and make Upper Scioto Valley the first school system in the country to be powered by both sun and wind. The district first made history in 2009 by hosting what was Ohio's largest on-site school wind installation.

Upper Scioto Valley's clean energy initiatives are part of the district's effort to improve energy efficiency and serve as a model and living laboratory for its students and the surrounding community.

"We're finding that going green is good for our finances and even better for our core mission of educating our students," said Dr. James Bowser of Upper Scioto Valley Schools.

The solar and wind systems were developed by NexGen Energy Partners LLC, a leading owner and operator of distributed renewable energy systems across the nation. In addition to operating the systems, NexGen Energy Partners will provide customized curriculum to help the Upper Scioto Valley Schools bring renewable energy to life in the classroom.

The educational benefits of hosting solar and wind installations will be numerous, says Michael Arquin, the director of the KidWind project, a leading renewable energy educational organization and a NexGen Energy partner.

"On this system, students will be able to witness the complex interaction of two different renewable generators on site. When the wind is blowing and the wind turbines are spinning, the sky might be cloudy and the solar panels are not producing energy. Other times the sun will be out and the solar system will be working, while the wind turbines are still. Students will be able to explore all of these interactions real time at their school."

Because NexGen Energy Partners builds and operates its own systems, Upper Scioto Valley Schools will pay only for the energy the turbines and solar panels produce. Both systems received support from the state of Ohio and federal stimulus funds.

"By harnessing the energy from both the wind and the sun, Upper Scioto Valley is a model for school districts across the country," said John M. Brown, President of NexGen Energy. "We applaud their leadership and commitment."

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