Bay View High School going solar
June 1, 2010
By Michael Timm
In 15 months, Bay View’s “castle on the hill” should sport a shiny new silicon crown.
Bay View High School is one of two MPS schools set to have a 20-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system installed on its rooftop. A solar hot water system will also be installed. Students will help design both systems.
“This is the wave of the future. You guys are going to get in on the ground floor,” Rick Kartz advised the first eight students who signed up for a special solar course at BVHS. Kartz is a paraprofessional involved with the high school’s Building, Architecture, and Technology (BAT) Academy and its anticipated engineering academy.
Physics teacher Adam Stonemeier will teach the solar course at Bay View. The original idea was for a “solar swap” where students at James Madison High School would design Bay View’s system, treating their rival as their client, and Bay View students would design Madison’s system. Patrick Tao is Stonemeier’s counterpart at James Madison.
The impetus for these solar installations was federal stimulus money awarded to the city of Milwaukee in October 2009 for special projects “to further support and transform Milwaukee’s solar market.”
In 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy designated the city of Milwaukee one of 25 “Solar American Cities,” and awarded it $200,000 to start the Milwaukee Shines program.
On May 3, representatives from Milwaukee Shines, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, and Bay View-based solar site assessor Barb Basaj met with BVHS students to provide an overview to their project and a background to solar technology and energy efficiency.
Students learned that the current average cost of solar technology is $10 per watt, or $10,000 per kilowatt.
Thus the 20-kilowatt system planned for Bay View’s roof, which will consist of approximately 100 solar panels, is expected to cost $200,000. Solar photovoltaic awning mounts are being considered in addition to roof-mounted panels for the high school.
The federal stimulus matching grant of $660,543 will provide $100,000 toward the Bay View system and $100,000 toward James Madison’s. Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program will provide approximately 35 percent of the cost, and the high school will be responsible to raise the balance.
The new photovoltaic system is not expected to eliminate the school’s sizeable electric bills, but should make a noticeable impact.
A solar hot water system routes propylene glycol-the ingredient in antifreeze-up onto the roof of a building where it is heated by the sun. The propylene glycol is then piped down to exchange heat with water, raising the water’s temperature and reducing the amount of natural gas needed to heat the hot water further. Bay View’s system is expected to reduce the school’s natural gas bill.
Andrea Luecke, project manager for Milwaukee Shines, asked students what they’d learned after an hour’s lecture. One student keenly observed, “It’s efficient for the Earth and all, but you have to have a lot of money, too.”
PV Boot Camp for Teachers
Joe Schueller of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association will lead a five-day “PV Boot Camp” for up to 10 teachers at Bay View High School starting June 28. The idea is to “train the trainers,” according to MREA’s Amy Heart.
Cudahy Goes Solar, Too
The city of Milwaukee is not alone in moving its schools toward solar power. The Cudahy school district had three of its buildings assessed for their solar potential. One of them, J.E. Jones School, 5845 S. Swift Ave., will have a 20-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system installed this summer, said Jim Papala, business manager for the Cudahy school district. The $140,000 system will receive $95,000 in financing from Focus on Energy and We Energies, Papala said, with the balance paid for from funds approved in a public referendum last year. J.E. Jones will be a pilot project, but the district is budgeting up to a 50-percent savings in energy costs and expecting system payback over a 12-year range, Papala said. Jones was the preferred site because of the level of sunlight and the potential cost savings. The contractor is Brookfield-based Uihlein Electric.
Also this summer, both Cudahy High School and the middle school will have solar hot water systems installed to heat their swimming pools, involving piping that circulates the pool water to the roof, Papala said.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.