Fall 2017
Education Trends

Back to School with Solar Energy Celebrations

Back to School with Solar Energy Celebrations

Several local schools started off the school year with more than just clean classrooms and fresh paint. Lincoln Elementary School in Madison hosted a "solar turn-on" and health fair event on Sept. 12 to celebrate its new solar energy array, financed through a successful multiyear fundraising campaign. Lincoln school teacher Clare Seguin spearheaded the rooftop solar project with support from students, parents and staff.

Madison West High School's Green Club has raised more than $19,000 toward its goal of purchasing up to 100 solar panels for a rooftop solar project expansion. The students hope to raise $50,000 by the end of this school year. Lincoln Elementary and Madison West will join more than 145 Wisconsin public schools that have solar installations, some producing clean energy since 1999. In addition, more schools are seeking an environmental certification through the state's Green and Healthy Schools Network.

Wisconsin currently ranks 9th in the country with school-based solar systems installed. As the price of solar panels continues to fall and awareness of their environmental and economic benefits continues to rise, schools are increasingly looking at solar energy to help manage energy costs and other benefits. The solar arrays allow the schools to get some of their electricity needs met by their own clean, renewable energy sources. The systems save schools money on electricity bills, one of the few expenditures that districts can manage.

Solar systems also give schools a new teaching tool for students and staff to integrate renewable energy with math, science, social studies and other subject areas.

MGE has several solar classroom tools for loan to teachers to help students learn about solar energy, including a mini solar panel exploration kit called Solar Pathfinder (a mapping tool for assessing solar site potential) and a solar oven that reaches temperatures above 350°F. Email MGE Community Education Manager Jim Jenson at jejenson@mge.com if you're interested.