If you have been to school at all in the past month or so, you’ve probably noticed the massive construction project on the gym roof. A 117 kilowatt solar panel array was in the process of being installed, becoming the second solar project undertaken at CHS. Following the saying “out of sight, out of mind”, the project and its effects will likely be difficult to notice. However, the benefits will be far-reaching on the district, the community, and the climate.
Ms. Williams, a PE and Health teacher at CHS, helped start the movement for these panels almost thirteen years ago. Over the years, she has been deeply involved with raising awareness at CHS about the climate, teaching classes such as Sustainability and Society and helping lead Green Club. She has been rallying for solar at CHS for 13 years, and is extremely proud of this huge step in the right direction.
The project and its funding is heavily driven by the Corvallis community. The Oregon Clean Power Cooperative developed the solar project, and anyone in the area had the ability to invest money into it. Williams says that “what’s cool is that [we’re] going to get it all back, plus 2% within a 10 year period. We want that story to get out, so we have a lot more people in town going ‘okay, I can save the planet, make a little bit of money, and also save the district money.’”
In fact, Williams explains, “people in the community have actually put up all of the money for [the project]. The school district hasn’t had to pay a penny”. In addition to being community funded, Benton Electric Solar and the Energy Trust of Oregon also contributed about half of the overall cost.
In total, the panels will produce roughly 150,000 kW each year, 8% of the school’s current 1,800,000 kW energy usage. Although this seems like a small amount, an article from the Corvallis School District stated that, “The project is expected to deliver environmental benefits equivalent to planting 93 acres of trees, or reducing the miles driven by passenger cars by 236,000 miles”. The article went on to state that it will also save the district nearly $317,000 in energy costs over the next 25 years.
According to Williams, “We have to model a shift to renewable energy. Using fossil fuels in this day in age is like still using a wind-up wall-mounted phone with an operator on the other end. It’s old, old technology that has provided a lot of power”. Future solar developments at CHS are being considered, but the process of getting one planned and approved can take a long time. Until then, any student can become involved with this and other climate projects in a countless number of ways. Whether it’s picking up a piece of trash today or installing solar on your own home, your effort will make a difference.
Green Club meets on Fridays at lunch in H2.