The Recorder – Solar panels at Four Rivers Charter Public School to offset electricity usage by 25 percent

GREENFIELD – The electricity generated at the Four Rivers Charter Public School on Colrain Road will be greener in the years to come thanks to the solar panels recently installed in the school’s barn.

“Sustainability and energy conservation are important to the school,” said Amy Wales, director of finance and operations at Four Rivers.

According to Wales, the school is always looking for ways to save energy costs and use more renewable energy. In recent years the school has replaced all the lights in some buildings with more efficient LED lights and improved insulation.

Although the process of installing solar energy really started about a year ago, Wales said it has been a goal for the past three or four years.

“We had an excellent site for that,” she said.

In a press release, Wales wrote that Four Rivers expects the solar panels to pay for themselves in about 10 years. She expects the panels will produce enough energy to offset about 25 percent of the school’s annual electricity consumption.

Wales stated that the school had advertised for the project. She has connected with Solar Store of Greenfield, a solar company on Fiske Avenue that stores and installs solar technology for homes and businesses.

According to Claire Chang of the Solar Store of Greenfield, the entire installation process from approval to connection with Eversource took about two months. The panels went live at the end of January.

“(The project) is also a perfect fit for our mission,” said Chang. “Not only to provide households and businesses with renewable energy, but also to have a showcase so that students can learn more about renewable energy and its simplicity. how it works; that it is (and) not dangerous could easily be incorporated into their daily life. ”

The system will replace natural gas and oil, which are used to generate electricity, according to the press release.

“If, like the school, you have a clear south-facing roof that can produce electricity generated by the sun, you have what is called a renewable source that does not require fossil fuels to be extracted or burned to produce electricity. Said Chang. “The sun rises and sets every day.”

And while it’s not necessarily sunny every day, most days are sunny, she said.

“We can generate a lot of electricity from the sun even here in Massachusetts,” said Chang. “Massachusetts and New England must use 100 percent renewable energy to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels.”

The panels on the Four Rivers barn roof are expected to generate 40,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, which is an estimated greenhouse gas equivalent of 71,242 miles driven by an average passenger car, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.

“Unfortunately, 70 percent of the Commonwealth’s population is not entitled to solar energy for their homes … either because they don’t own it (they are renters), they have shade problems … or a number of other regulatory or financial considerations make it impossible,” said Chang . “So we need to make sure that solar or renewable energy is being produced for the entire population of Massachusetts.”

Some of that, she said, will come from offshore wind, which Massachusetts has a “huge resource” of.

“It is a must that everyone participates in the revolution as soon as they can, financially or otherwise,” she said.

Mary Byrne can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne

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