The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is having a lasting and positive impact on education institutions and young people all across Massachusetts. Less than a year ago, Boston College High School unveiled an 870-panel solar photovoltaic (PV) installation on a reflective white roof. By utilizing a $162,435 Commonwealth Solar Stimulus rebate administered by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and engaging in a power purchase agreement with Borrego Solar, the school was able to make its solar plans a reality. This 197 kW system will produce 40 percent of the electricity needed for the campus, saving the high school more than $500,000 over the next two decades and drastically reducing the school’s carbon footprint.
The solar panels are also being used as a visual teaching tool for students. Brian Maher, executive director of capital planning and technology at the high school, recently told me “the solar panels are being used to teach students firsthand about the importance of sustainability and renewable energy.” He explained that, as a part of the curriculum, students tour the solar PV system and then track the power being generated in real-time through an online monitoring system.
The monitoring system displays electricity generation in easy-to-understand numbers and equivalents. As of this writing, the system has generated over 205,000 kWh of clean, homegrown electricity - equal to the electricity needed to operate a television for over 1.4 million hours or to power 1,580 computers for a full year. This past July was Boston College High School’s highest month of electricity generation yet.
“The panels are just fantastic,” Maher said. “The system is really hitting its stride this summer and is definitely exceeding our expectations. We can’t wait to show the students the progress when the school year starts again.”
Here’s where to find more information on the Recovery Act and other similar projects in Massachusetts: