Dairyland Power Cooperative's "Solar For Schools" Program

Earth Day is in just a few days, and Fox 25/48 is celebrating by featuring community members doing their part to help the environment. Tonight, Erin O’Brien explains how solar energy is being put to use in unique ways at schools throughout western Wisconsin.

Hoping to inspire future renewable energy experts, Dairyland Power Cooperative's "Solar for Schools" program helps local colleges and schools install solar panels on their own campus. 

"We know that there will be careers for solar installation and maintenance in the future and so we think it's a really good fit and then as far as learning the economics and so forth of it at the high school level is a really great fit."

These solar panels on Western Technical College's Independence campus were the first ones installed through the program last fall. Western says the program helps to develop their building systems and renewable energy curriculum.

"We know exactly what the trends are affecting their business and it allows us to make sure our programs are current."

Having these four panels just steps away from the classroom allows Western students to simply walk outside and take measurements of the total and hourly energy output and also get hands on lessons in solar array maintenance.

"They come out and maintain the panels so cleaning them and making sure the mechanism is working properly and so forth."

And it's saving money for Western.

"In 2010, district wide it cost about $1.11 per square foot for all of our energy. It went down to about a dollar 8 the next year. last year it was 75 cents per square foot."

The next school districts set to participate in solar for schools are Cochrane, Fountain City school, Alma, and De Soto.

Dairyland expects their solar panels to be installed this summer.

In Independence, Erin O’Brien, Fox 25/48 News at Nine. 

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