New York School Pioneers Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy TechnologyThe Port Jefferson Union Free School District in New York State is the first in the District to install energy-saving energy-efficient solar energy.

Port Jefferson is home to the annual Dickens Festival, when the town is transformed into the pre-electricity 19th century to celebrate the writer’s life. Charles Dickens himself would doubtless approve of using renewable power.

The photovoltaic project

The Port Jefferson Union Free School District (UFSD) is installing a 48 KW photovoltaic system on the roof of the town’s Edna Louise Spear Elementary School. Energy savings are estimated to be more than $9,000 every year.

This photovoltaic system is not the only energy-efficiency project underway in the District. The District is also upgrading the lighting in four separate school buildings.

The lighting project

The lighting project consist of retrofitting well over one thousands lighting fixtures with cutting-edge energy-efficient lamps and ballast. They will replace 807 lighting fixtures, and will also install 94 occupancy sensors.

The lighting project will save the Port Jefferson district 396,000 kWh every year, which will save about $74,000 annually.

The District kept environmental protection in mind when designing the projects. For example, they used Clean Seal cleaning products, and ensured their floors had a high recycled content.

Inspiring future generations

Fred Koelbel, Plant Facilities Administrator for Port Jefferson UFSD, wants to inspire the District’s future generations. The solar panels installed on the elementary school will help introduce kindergarten to fifth grade students to renewable energy.

Students will be able to see the monitoring system, will see how much power is transformed by the solar panels, and how much energy is used by the school.

“The next generation of rate payers is walking into the building every day,” said Mr. Koelbel. “One of the most important things about the solar panels is their educational value.”

Partnership and funding

The District was granted a $403,200 award from NYSERDA under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the solar panel installation. Thelighting upgrades were covered by an award of $337,242.

“The project would not have happened without the ARRA funds,” says Mr. Koelbel. “NYSERDA’s grant gave us the ability to jump start and move forward with this project.”

Sources used in researching this article include NYSERDA: What the Dickens is Going on Here?

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