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Tamaqua School District to host solar seminar

Published July 11. 2011 05:00PM

The Tamaqua Area School District will host an informative presentation about the benefits of using solar energy and the energy efficiencies created to power the district area's schools. The proposed project would supply all the power necessary to provide electricity to Tamaqua Area School District's Middle and High schools, as well as Rush Elementary School, West Penn Elementary School, and Tamaqua Elementary School.

The presentation will be made on Tuesday July 12th at 6 p.m. at the West Penn Elementary School. The meeting is open to the public and there should be a brief opportunity for questions and answers before the regularly scheduled school board meeting begins.

The project would be installed at no expense to the school district. The school district would still pay for its electricity, but at a significantly lower rate. The decreased rate would be locked in for the life of the system, insulating the district from rising energy costs.

The photovoltaic system will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. By using solar power as opposed to fossil fuels for generating electricity, the avoided Carbon emmissions would be equal to taking 2,840 compact cars off the road while providing power to 1,932 homes.

"We believe that harnessing the energy of the sun to lower energy bills by installing solar to power Tamaqua Area schools is the prudent thing to do," says Arthur Oakes Jr., the district's facilities manager. "We would also be storing (or banking) the energy we produce on the utility grid. We won't always be able to produce enough energy to power the schools on any given day, but some days we will produce too much. At the end of the year we would come out even, producing as much as we use. The analysis of the district's energy use shows we need about 3.65 MW and that is what the system is designed to produce."

"We are encouraged by this new, no-cost alternative that will save our district money," says Carol Makuta, Superintendent of Tamaqua Area School District, "We have found that we can save money while doing our part to help the environment. There will also be an educational benefit incorporated in the launch of this program. Our students will learn first-hand about alternative energies in a hands-on fashion, preparing them for the future. We think it's a no brainer to go green, save money, and increase the quality of education for Tamaqua Area students."

Tamaqua Area School District has already installed geothermal heating systems at the district's schools. "I think we have shown that we are open to economically beneficial, innovative, and green projects that have the potential to benefit Tamaqua Area schools in many different ways," continued Oakes. "However, I think that it is important to involve the community in the process, particularly on issues like the location of the panels and some of the other options we may have. That is why we are holding the seminar."

What people may not know is that Tamaqua was just the second town in the nation to install an incandescent municipal lighting system. A feat accomplished in 1885 with the help of Thomas Edison. "We are proud to carry on that tradition," said Mr. Oakes.

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