Jacksonville, Florida [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] A Northeast Florida school is using the state’s free supply of sunshine to light both the classrooms and the imaginations of students. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), together with JEA, powered up a solar electric system at Episcopal High School in Jacksonville.“Planning for future energy demands ensures a brighter tomorrow for Florida,” said DEP Deputy Secretary for Regulatory Programs and Energy Allan Bedwell. “Installing solar technology in Florida’s schools protects our environment and quality of life while also providing an unparalleled educational opportunity for students.” The solar electric system is a part of Florida’s SunSmart Schools Program, which is installing 29 solar electric systems in schools throughout the state. The program combines State and private funding to provide clean energy and science education. Episcopal High School will produce 4,760 watts through solar technology – a part of 112,620 total watts of electricity now being generated by solar power in Florida’s schools. “Florida’s energy and environmental futures are inextricably linked,” said Deputy Secretary Bedwell. “Advancing clean energy technology conserves resources, prevents pollution, saves taxpayer dollars and, in this case, teaches valuable lessons to the leaders of tomorrow.” The electric power generated by the system will be distributed onto the local power grid, and it can be diverted directly back into the school in an emergency situation. The school also serves as a designated Red Cross primary shelter. “Using the panels gives students an opportunity to make real-world connections between classroom content and natural phenomena,” said Episcopal High School Headmaster Charles F. Zimmer. “Through inquiry investigations, our students have learned that solar energy is efficient and renewable.” Episcopal High School is the first school in Duval County to receive a solar electric system. Students will be able to communicate on-line with other SunSmart Schools across the state while tracking energy usage and storage. 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 posting select metered data online at the following link.