Solar panels will help power Montana high school, provide educational opportunities
The Green Group, a student club at Helena High School working to promote environmental awareness, received $18,000 from Northwestern Energy for the system on the roof and $3,000 for the indoor solar station came from the Helena Education Foundation.
Helena High School’s power bill should see a slight decrease thanks to solar panels being installed this week on the roof of the school. While the savings will be nice, officials hope the panels will have some educational value as well.
Four departments at the school — English, science, math and theater — received two grants to complete the project at the school, which includes a 4.7-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system, sensors on the roof to collect data, and a station with monitors located in the hallway for use as a teaching tool.
English teacher Jill Van Alstyne said cutting back on the school’s power usage is great but what she really likes the project’s teaching potential.
“From my perspective, the main reason is to educate people about what is possible,” she said.
The system will collect information about intensity of the sun, the energy produced and weather data, which will be displayed in a kiosk where students and staff can see what’s happening.
“Every time they walk down the hall they’ll think about it,” Van Alstyne said.