A 10kW solar array was constructed at The Imaginarium Science Center in Fort Myers as part of a Florida Power & Light educational program. (Michael Braun/The News-Press)
Fort Myers, Florida (News-Press) -- Estero High School flipped the switch Friday on a program that will bring the sun into classrooms as a teaching aid.
Lee County school is among 21 in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties
using solar power to reduce energy costs and provide a learning
opportunity as part of Florida Power & Light's Solar for Schools
program will place 5- to 10-kilowatt arrays, also known as solar panels,
in 90 schools and five science centers - including the Imaginarium
Science Center in Fort Myers - in 23 counties.
In Lee , five of the eight schools earmarked for the program have arrays operating.
so much potential for this," said Principal George Clover. "Right now
it is just for the science classes. We want to make sure we learn the
teacher William Guarno was excited about the possibilities. "We will be
able to pull up screens and data in class," he said. "We will be
teaching the kids to look at the data and interpret it."
Walker, Estero's technology support specialist, said the system will
also allow array data to be broadcast throughout the school.
Hofmeyer, a spokesman for FPL, said the arrays provide real-time energy
monitoring with power generated credited to the school to help cut
Participating schools also get teacher training and educational materials at no cost to the district.
panels cost from $50,000 to $80,000, depending on size, according to
FPL. Hofmeyer said FPL will handle upkeep for the first five years.
He said funding comes from FPL's five-year Solar Pilot Program approved in 2010.
"Under the program, funds come from the energy conservation clause on customer bills," he said.
Conrecode, Collier schools' support services director, said his
district's projects were in the design and permitting phase with
construction expected in the spring.
Conrecode said the program was a positive for Collier schools for the educational output and the power produced.
"The energy developed will be about $600 to $1,000 a year," he said. "It depends on sunlight and orientation."
Conrecode said teachers involved in the program can use the solar arrays for teaching in many different ways.
"They can be specific or used more broadly across an entire year," he said.
Imaginarium Science Center 10kW array has been up and running all
summer, said Mathew Johnson, center general manager. "It's a cool little
exhibit," he said.
said the array, tied into the center's Caloosahatchee River exhibit,
will be expanded with four panels overlooking the main array. "They can
be touched and tilted, and the children will be able to see how the
energy output changes," he said.