The Issaquah School District and Puget Sound Energy (PSE) recently partnered to build the third Community Solar site for the utility at Pine Lake Middle School (PLMS).
The Community Solar program allows customers to subscribe to PSE’s renewable energy program, without having to install their own panels.
The array has been installed on the roof of the school. It consists of 480 solar panels that generate 175 kilowatts of AC power per year.
Generation depends on time of year and location. The estimated output per share is an average of 182 kWh of energy per month. PSE estimates that the entire array generates enough electricity to power about 23 homes.
The array became functional at PLMS in February this year and is predicted to produce even more power during the summer.
“The school itself does not benefit from the energy generated. Customers can subscribe to one or more shares in the array and get a credit on their bill each month,” said product manager Leslie Myers.
This means that the school is not using the power that is generated by the panels.
The school has space for an array of 119 shares, 95 of which are general shares, each offered at $20 per month per share. The other 24 are reserved for income-eligible households at no cost. The general shares require a commitment of one year.
All energy from the Community Solar program is local and available through subscription to PSE customers based on availability of shares.
The school hopes that this partnership will also create more educational opportunities for students and staff to learn about the benefits of renewable energy.
“The students at PLMS will benefit from this project because it is very visible, and I have no doubt teachers and other staff at PLMS will get questions from students that will lead to some very good discussions about sustainable energy and the role of solar power,” said district superintendent Ron Thiele.
In an announcement posted on the school district website, Thiele said that “youth are the leaders in efforts of sustainability.” He expressed hope that the Community Solar program will set an example for students on reducing waste and researching alternate energy sources, and that they would become advocates for the environment.
PSE has additional sites in Olympia, on the roof of Olympia High School, and near Ellensburg in Kittitas County. The company wants to increase customer access to renewable energy across the state by creating more Community Solar sites and reduce the carbon footprint of its service area.