Wilson Elementary School ‘Flips the Switch’ on Donated Solar Panels

HISD’s Woodrow Wilson Montessori School and the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club have “flipped the switch” the school’s new solar panels, which will provide a renewable source of energy for the Houston magnet school and help students learn about solar energy.

The solar system was made possible by a $50,000 donation from the Sun Club, a voluntary program in which Green Mountain Energy Company residential customers, including many in Houston, make monthly contributions toward solar generation systems for non-profits.

The Sun Club provided the 39 solar panels, which take up 585 square feet of the roof of Wilson Elementary’s outdoor pavilion. The panels will provide the school with pollution-free electricity generated by the sun.

The 9.55 kilowatt (kW) array is expected to generate about 11,600 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of renewable energy each year. By using renewable energy instead of traditional power, the school will avoid an equivalent production of 13,400 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO₂) annually. This is the same amount of CO2 generated when driving 15,000 miles in a car.

The solar energy system was designed and installed by Akari Energy and follows the donation of a solar-powered generator last April through a partnership with the City of Houston.

“The solar panels from the Sun Club assist tremendously in the school’s efforts to be a leader in environmental education and reduce waste,” said Wilson Principal Beth Bonnette. “We’re excited to enhance renewable energy education in our curriculum by teaching our students about the importance and impact of this solar array.”

The panels come with a monitoring system displaying the output of the solar array and electricity needs of the building. Students will compare classroom usage with the amount generated by the system and look for ways to conserve.

“This array will do more than help the school save on its electricity bill and reduce its environmental footprint, it will also provide real-life data for the students to use in their everyday curriculum.” said Tony Napolillo, Sun Club program manager, Green Mountain Energy Company.  “We are literally putting our energy future in the hands of these students as they understand and implement conservation and renewable energy education into their school work and daily routines.”

Wilson is the 45th Sun Club dedication since the program was founded in 2002 and the 14th in the Houston area.The Montessori school is slated to get a new addition and general renovations under the 2012 bond program. The panels will be preserved as part of that project.