Puget Sound Energy is offering public schools and other educational institutions an opportunity to bring renewable energy into the classroom – or perhaps, onto the classroom.
Today, January 31, the utility opened the grant-application period for organizations seeking to install small-scale solar arrays or wind power turbines. Schools and nonprofit institutions with a renewable-energy education focus are eligible to apply for a PSE grant, which can range from $5,000 to $20,000.
PSE’s Renewable Energy Education Program (formerly called Solar Schools) and voluntary Green Power Program have provided $394,139 in grants to fund 23 educational solar-power projects in Western Washington during the last seven years.
The programs promote understanding and acceptance of renewable-energy technologies and expand the range of options available to local educators, students, families and communities in PSE’s nine-county electric service area.
Successful applicants will receive grants to fund renewable-energy education and demonstration projects at their facility. The grant can provide supplemental funds to an existing project or cover the entire cost, up to $20,000, of a renewable-energy demonstration system. Grants also support real-time, Web-based monitoring software that allows students and interested community members to track how much energy is being generated at any given time. Also provided are educational materials and support, including science teacher training, classroom activity guides and renewable-energy science kits.
Small-scale renewable-energy demonstration systems ranging from 900 watts to 2 kilowatts require no fuel and minimal maintenance while generating enough power, on average to operate 10 to 20 notebook computers, each consuming 33 watts for eight hours a day. The wind- and solar-power generating equipment has a typical lifespan of 20 or more years.
Schools and other educational institutions qualifying for a grant must submit plans detailing their educational goals and objectives for a solar or wind demonstration project. Applicants are also required to have used a PSE energy efficiency program within the past 36 months. Grant applications must be received by PSE no later than 5 p.m. on March 15, 2011. An electronic application is available for online submittal. Applications can be found on PSE’s website at:
In 2010, seven Puget Sound-area schools and educational institutions received approximately $100,000 in PSE grants for solar photovoltaic demonstration systems and educational materials:
- Griffin Elementary School, Olympia
- Tahoma Senior High School, Covington
- Vashon Island High School
- The Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living at 21 Acres, Woodinville
- Town of La Conner Wastewater and Compost Facility
- Sunrise Elementary School, Redmond
- Echo Glen Children’s Center, Snoqualmie
Dedication ceremonies are being planned in 2011 for newly installed demonstration projects at Green River Community College in Auburn (2009 grant), Vashon Island High School, Millennium Elementary in Kent (2009 grant), Griffin Elementary in Olympia, La Conner Wastewater and Compost Facility, and 21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living at 21 Acres in Woodinville.