Indiana school embraces solar power for energy

By The Associated Press

WALKERTON — A school in northern Indiana is expected to be powered by the sun by March following the installation of more than 800 solar panels.

The project at North Liberty Elementary in Walkerton in St. Joseph County is part of a broader effort to improve energy efficiency in the John Glenn School Corp., the South Bend Tribune reported.

North Liberty's principal, Randy Romer, said work on the 846-panel solar field should be completed by mid-March. The solar panels can be used as an education tool as students learn how output varies depending on the weather.

A monitor will be placed in a common area so students can see how much power is being produced.

“From a student’s perspective, it’s a whole lot different to see something with your own eyes rather than just reading about it and seeing pictures in a book,” Romer said. “They’re excited about it, but so are the teachers.”

Superintendent Chris Winchell said money was a key factor in embracing solar, LED lighting and other energy-saving steps.

“You really have to have a sound financial plan to protect your programs, and the best way to do that is to have a strong facilities plan,” Winchell said. “Controlling utility costs helps us achieve those goals.”

Goshen Community Schools started its own solar fields at Model Elementary and Prairie View Elementary. The district estimates it will save as much as $148,000 a year in utility costs, said Judy Miller, energy education specialist.

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