A new solar power installation is brightening the future for students at St. Helens High School. In partnership with the PUD and Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), the school has installed a 1.1-kilowatt solar electric power system.
The project educates students and teachers on the functions and benefits of solar electric power while providing clean energy to help offset a portion of the school's electricity use.
"Columbia River PUD actively supports expanding educational opportunities in our community," said PUD General Manager Kevin Owens. "We are excited to partner with BEF and St. Helens High School to introduce local students to the science, technology and career opportunities of renewable energy."
In addition to producing clean, renewable energy, St. Helens High School's solar power system includes a curriculum package that uses the web-based, real-time data generated by the installation to provide students with a comprehensive learning experience. St. Helens High School teacher Jay Groom will spearhead the school's renewable energy education efforts, using the photovoltaic system to enhance science, social studies, and other classes.
"The whole school can benefit from the addition of this project to our curriculum," Groom said. "I love real data and applications of what is learned in the classroom. That sort of thing makes the learning come alive to the students and they internalize it much better. We would like to thank the BEF and the PUD for all of the time and energy they have put into making this project a reality."
An interactive, flash-animated kiosk located in the school's entry hallway further increases the educational value of the project. The wall-mounted kiosk details the live and historical performance of the 1.1-kilowatt system and visually depicts how solar electricity is generated.
Local dignitaries, PUD and SHHS board members and staff and SHHS students attended the dedication. State Senator Betsy Johnson spoke about the importance of renewable energy in Oregon and the job opportunities in this growing industry.
"We at St. Helens High School are excited to receive the photovoltaic project as it gives us another 'hands on' approach to teaching science and relating that science to the students' lives," Groom noted. "The live data will allow the students to see how our energy needs can be addressed through alternative means."
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