CLARKDALE - The switch was flipped March 13. Now solar panels on the gymnasium roof of Clarkdale-Jerome School are saving money, reducing CO2 emissions and providing subject material for science and math classes.
"Our solar panels here at the school are installed and are working great," Superintendent Kathleen Fleenor said Thursday. She explained that the final inspection by APS was March 13, and then the system was turned on.
Fleenor said she is amazed at the number of kilowatt-hours the system has been generating.
"We're exceeding the expectation of what we should be generating," she said. "It won't pay for all of our electricity, but it will pay for a good bit of it."
She said savings from the solar system were estimated as high as $1,000 per month. Fleenor and seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher Jeff Scroggins both said on Thursday morning that the savings right now is probably running about $600 to $800 per month.
That will help the school with its utility bills. Fleenor said it isn't unusual for the district to receive a $2,000 electric bill.
The Arizona Schools Facility Board paid for the solar panel project.
"We qualified for a grant through the SFB," Fleenor said. "It was stimulus money."
She explained that the SFB did small schools last year. "This year the district qualified for a grant for medium-small schools.
"We had to put a new roof on the building before the solar installation," Fleenor said. "We had capital funds for that."
But SFB paid for everything with the solar installation. "Everything had to be American-made and pass certain inspections," Fleenor said.
"I have a website that tracks the kilowatt hours each day and lists the CO2 emissions that have been saved and the money we are saving," Fleenor said.
"Jeff Scroggins has a setup in his classroom also so that soon middle school students will be able to do science and math problems and projects regarding our electricity and savings," Fleenor said.
In addition, Scroggins has a projection system in his classroom that will show the energy use, CO2 emissions and dollar savings of the solar project. He said that he and another teacher will be increasing the use of the website and the solar project within the science and math curriculum.
"SFB is also monitoring the energy savings of all the schools they've done this with," Fleenor said.
She said the life of the system is estimated for at least 20 years. "They're pretty much maintenance free," Fleenor said.