Salt Lake City school goes solar

Posted at 9:23 PM, Sep 15, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY --  A Salt Lake City School is adding renewable energy to their lesson plan, and their building.

The Montessori Community School has installed one of the largest private solar energy systems on its roof, and the students are learning from it.

Bob Buchanan owns the school, and he said he’s actually excited to see the monthly utility bill.

"We spend about $8,000 a year on electrical power,” he said. “We expect that 90 to 100 percent of that now will be offset by these panels.”

Buchanan said the school will largely be powered through solar energy, and he said he wants to make that part of the curriculum.

"We have children who need to know what they can about what’s going on in our world, and we believe that energy is a big part of it,” he said.

Buchanan was one of a few hundred who applied for an incentive program offered by Rocky Mountain Power, which provides a rebate on a portion of the costs to customers who install solar panel systems.

"We can see each of these panels, what it’s producing at any moment, and the children will be able to watch that on a TV monitor and see what's going on,” Buchanan “And so they can say, 'Boy, it’s a cloudy day. We’re not producing as much. Wow have we done today?’”

Jack Matsen of Intermountain Wind and Solar said the project shines a light on an increasingly affordable alternative energy source.

'It’s cliche to say that it’s never been a better time to buy, but it literally has never been a better time to buy solar,” he said.

The 52.2 Kilowatt system installed at the school is about 10 times larger than what is used for a typical residential system. Buchanan said the system represents a long-term investment in both the school and its students.

“It’s an opportunity for our kids to learn something that’s fairly unique,” he said. “It’s something that the world is going to be a lot more about in the future.”