Just a few years ago, the staff at the Simonian Center for Early Learning in Sutton had to place buckets throughout the building to collect water that was leaking through their 20 year-old roof. Today, their new roof provides support for 897 Solon Solar PV panels with the capacity to produce 201kW of solar power. The panels also save the town as much as $25,000 annually in energy costs and will pay for the investment within four years. Since the system went online in January 2011, it has yielded $6,425 in energy savings to the town – even during the snowiest months of the year!
In celebration of their renewable energy triumph, a troupe of fifth grade students performed a solar-themed song of their own creation at the dedication ceremony held in May. Check out the YouTube video of their “Whacky Solar Song” performance.
Not only is the town saving money that can be used for other educational purposes, but students at the elementary school level are getting an up-close look at a renewable alternative source of energy. The teachers at the school have begun developing a curriculum on energy using the school’s solar PV monitoring system, which shows statistics and graphs displaying the amount of energy produced and how this equates to other non-renewable resources.
“The addition of the solar panels has turned our once deplorable roof into a model for any public municipality with green initiatives,” said Lauren Dubeau, the center’s principal, during the ribbon cutting ceremony.
This project, which is one of the larger municipally-owned PV systems in the Commonwealth, was supported by two Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (EECBG) made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and administered by the Green Communities Division of DOER. These grants funded construction and consulting services.
"I’ve been around a long time – eight decades. When I think back about when I was a youngster like these fifth graders, we were just getting electricity to my house,” said Sutton Selectman Mike Chizy, who also attended the ceremony. “If anybody had ever told me at that time that we were going to get electricity from the sun and get it for free without polluting, I would have told them they’re crazy.”
“Whacky Solar Panel Song”
Sol, solar panels Sol-Sol Solar panels
[Do] Sometimes it takes a bit of dough
[Re] Absorbed on sunny sunny days
[Mi] We're talking green energy
[Fa] The project went very fa (r)
Sol Solar panels whoa, whoa, whoa
[La] Lots of energy for everyone
[Ti] For the world community
[Do] So we'll do some good and maybe change the world