Apr 22, 2019 | By: Rachel Johnson

Solar Arrays Installed At Pequot Lakes And Pine River-Backus School Districts

As of this month, 25% of the energy used by the Pequot Lakes School District is now solar powered. This is the second solar array that has been installed this year at area schools thanks to a partnership between the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, Sourcewell, and the Region 5 Development Commission.

“The system is designed to produce about 25% of our use of electricity in a year. Were looking at financial savings in the $5,000 a month range when the power is really being generated at a high level,” said Chris Lindholm, Pequot Lakes Schools Superintendent.

The project, called Solar For Schools, was made possible by a partnership between the Region 5 Development Commission, Sourcewell, three area schools, and the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, or RREAL.

“We found a very unique partnership and a very unique approach so we could ensure that schools could also benefit from clean energy and the cost-stabilizing qualities of solar energy,” said Jason Edens, director of RREAL.

Crews spent the last three months during the winter installing the solar array at Pequot Lakes School. They were officially turned on last month.

This is the second school to receive a solar array. Solar panels were installed at the Pine River-Backus school district earlier this year.

“This system right here is saving the Pine River-Backus schools a substantial sum of money on an annual basis and it’s covering about 80% of their total consumption,” explained Edens.

RREAL makes it their mission to make solar energy accessible and also educate communities and schools on solar energy. Each school that is equipped with the panels is able to access real-time information on the solar array.

“Schools, teachers, and students can actually bring the data from this system, the real-time data, the aggregate data, directly into the classroom,” Edens added.

“You can go on to our school district website under the news and media tab and you can see exactly what’s being produced by the array at any given moment,” said Lindholm.

Having these solar arrays not only benefits the schools financially, but it is a great opportunity for students to learn about the growing field of renewable energy.

“The solar energy industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. So giving students the opportunity to see the benefits of solar energy, the costs of solar energy, the opportunities,” Edens said.

“I think it’s good for students to be able to see it, learn from it, and good for us as stewards of the environment to be able to be a greener school,” said Lindholm.

A third solar array is being installed at Central Lakes College and is set to be commissioned and put to use by the end of May.

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