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East Lycoming to Incorporate Wind Turbines to Campus

By Staff | Feb 18, 2009

Solar and wind power sources to save money and teach students renewable energy benefits are expected to be working by the end of this year at East Lycoming School District buildings.

Just months before an expected rate increase by PPL Energy Services, the district learned it was recipient of a $338,230 state Department of Environmental Protection “Energy Harvest” grant that it applied for last June.

On Monday, school officials and state Rep. Garth D. Everett, R-Muncy, explained that the grant money will be used to energize a dormant solar panel affixed to the high school and bring a windmill or two onto the campus. Portions of the money also will add automatic temperature control devices to elementary schools in Lairdsville and Picture Rocks and more efficient and improved lighting fixtures.

Everett said the district is ahead of the learning curve in terms of planning for future expenses and preparing the next generation of students who will have to use alternative energy sources along with conventional fossil fuels.

“Our local school districts have been forced to educate our youth on less and less as the economy has taken a nose dive in the past few months,” Everett said. “This grant will help the school district save money on heating and cooling and provide a quality education for our local students.”

Solar and wind technologies likely are to be in place by the end of this year and used by students and those enrolled in the Lycoming Career and Technology Center on the high school campus. The renewable energy sources from the sun’s rays and earth’s wind are anticipated to become a teaching tool for students enrolled in science and technology courses.

“We’re a looking at software interconnect through a network to allow students or instructors to pull up the solar panels or windmill and look at the data being produced,” district business manager David L. Maciejewski said. “We’ve been working for three years on energy conservation,” he added.

Overall, the grant funding will be used for an automatic temperature control system at Renn and Ferrell Elementary Schools, lighting retrofits at the high school and Ashkar Elementary School, a 2.2-kilowatt solar energy system and up to two small wind turbines on various school buildings, he said.

“The school district is expecting to save more than $13,000 a year from the energy conservation and renewable energy generation made by these improvements,” Everett said.

“We already have automatic temperature controls at the high school and Ashkar Elementary School in Hughesville that set back temperature at night and control the heating and cooling systems,” Maciejewski said.

Additional money will be used to retrofit lights, adding higher efficiency products to the gymnasiums at the high school and Ashkar and the Ashkar multi-purpose room, he said.

The district has measured and verified its energy footprint for six years.

“We’ve seen an actual average decrease of 462,733 kilowatt hours per year or 16 percent over the six years,” he said.

DEP’s Energy Harvest program promotes awareness and builds markets for cleaner or renewable energy technologies.

Innovative projects that are eligible include renewable energy deployment, including biomass; waste coal reclamation for energy; deployment of innovative efficiency technologies and distributed generation projects.

“It is a wise thing for school districts and all customers to conserve and use energy in a more productive manner,” said PPL spokesman Donald Stringfellow.

“We have been speaking about the coming expiration of the rate caps and what people can expect and what they can do in preparation for the event to happen.”

Set in place more than a decade ago, utilities soon are to be without a cap placed on the generation portion of the bills, according to Stringfellow.

It already happened to some utilities. PPL caps are due to be lifted Dec. 31, with several other utilities to follow next year.

“It means customers’ rates will be impacted,” Stringfellow said, unable to say just how much more that would be.

“They will pay the full effect of market price of energy, which has increased gradually over the last decade,” he said.