Help from community needed to receive free solar panels
Marlborough – Last week, the Marlborough School District directed a "solar challenge" to the community that could result in free solar panels for up to two city schools.
Superintendent of Schools Barbara McGann said she has been interested in "green" schools for a long time. Her catch phrase for the campaign is: "Everything is green in Marlborough, including our schools."
The challenge, known as the Clean Energy Choice and issued by the Massachusetts Technology collaborative (MTC), uses free solar panels (up to two per community) as a means of rewarding communities that support renewable energy projects.
"Participating in renewable energy is about good citizenship," McGann said.
She believes this challenge is a good example of how the school can do its part to conserve energy and educate the students about alternative energy.
In order to qualify for the free panels, the community of Marlborough needs to convince 150 households or businesses to purchase electricity through renewable sources or to contribute to the New England Wind Fund Project. Contributions can be made as either a one-time tax-deductible donation of $100 or more or a minimum of $5 monthly pledge for 12 months. The town needs to obtain at least 150 new donations before April 30, 2008, to qualify for the new panels.
Adam Briggs, a green power associate with Mass. Energy, said the amount of energy saved using the solar panels would substantially reduce the total consumption of electricity used by a school. He explained that the more substantial savings would in fact come from the monetary donations to renewable energy.
"Every $100 donation generates 2,000 kwh [kilowatt hours] of electricity generated by wind turbine, that can provide four to five months of electricity for an average house," Briggs said.
The program, he explained, has been successful with communities including Brookline, Cambridge and Acton, which all received solar panels valued at $25,000 each.
Green Marlborough founder Jennifer Boudrie, who initiated the program with the schools, said that she was excited by how willing McGann, School Facilities Director John Ghiloni and Mayor Nancy Stevens were to embrace the project.
Boudrie and other Green Marlborough members plan to continue to work with the school district to enlist as many residents as they can to sign up for renewable energy.
"It is important to invest in renewable energy and education in community," Boudrie said, "and this is a project to tie all of this together."
McGann is hopeful that at least one school will receive the solar panel, which she said would significantly decrease the energy cost at the school. At this point, it is undecided which school would receive the solar panel.
"What we are going to do is look at the amount of energy that is being consumed by the schools and place it where it will be most beneficial," Mc- Gann said.
McGann explained that another of her goals is to establish an aggressive recycling movement within all of the city schools and to embed in the curriculum good environmental and energy philosophies.
"This program is just a start," McGann.
For more information about the program or to sign up, visit www.Newenglandwind. org/ Marlborough.
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