Solar Education Grows in Florida Schools

Nine Florida schools so far have added solar energy experience to their curriculum through the SunSmart schools program. SunSmart is a statewide initiative to install 29 solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on schools around the state.

The program combines state funding with private partnership to provide clean energy and science education. Secondary school students are provided with the tools to study PV systems, which includes a curriculum administered by the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC). Nature Coast Technical High School is the most recent school to begin operating their 4 kW PV system, which was provided by the area utility Progress Energy Florida. “This is a very unique opportunity, and the students and faculty here are thrilled to be a part of it,” said Tizzy Schoelles. “Nature Coast Technical High School prides itself on its technically-focused curriculum. This hands-on project provides our high school students with an opportunity to improve their understanding of solar power and the importance of our nation’s energy needs.” Students will track energy production from the PV system mounted on the school’s roof and conduct scientific experiments and mathematical computations based upon the system’s energy production. Nature Coast is one of five schools located in Progress Energy Florida’s service territory where the company has installed 4 kW photovoltaic systems, provided industry expertise, and contributed additional funding. “Progress Energy is committed to seeking viable energy sources through exploration and education,” said John Masiello, Manager of Demand Side Management and Alternative Energy Strategy from Progress Energy Florida. “There is no better place for us to explore an initiative involving renewable energy than with young minds.” In addition to Nature Coast, Progress Energy has joined with the following schools: Winter Park 9th Grade Center, Lyman High School, Celebration School and Lakewood High School. Florida’s SunSmart Schools Program is funded by the Florida Energy Office and managed by the Florida Solar Energy Center. The Center is providing the engineering design for system installations and inspections, and is posting select, metered data online. (See link below.)