Construction begins on solar project at charter school

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By April, Pinnacle Charter School in Federal Heights will be equipped with more than 2,000 solar modules, taking the school’s energy savings to the next level.

Construction began on the project last week, which is being financed by Distributed Sun, a commercial solar developer and platform service provider out of Washington, D.C. But the idea of solar panel began almost two years ago from science program coordinator Michele King.

“This project is part of the school’s Green Initiative program and our STEM curriculum,” she said. “Once that program was started, I decided that the school could also do solar panels.”

In order to make the idea a reality, King needed to find a corporate sponsor to fund the project. Distributed Sun stepped up to the challenge.

“We are excited to share the news of our partnership with The Pinnacle, and applaud their commitment to sustainable energy at bottom-line savings,” said Jeff Weiss, co-chairman of Distributed Sun. “We are very proud to be a part of the project not only because of the energy savings, but also because of what the project can teach the students.

King said the 2,244 solar modules will provide an estimated $14,000 in savings the first year and potentially as much as $1.6 million in lifetime savings. She said the system will serve almost 65 percent of the school’s electricity needs.

But what she’s most excited about is the educational aspect of the project. Students at all grade levels will have the opportunity learn about real-time energy savings through monitoring equipment.

“Once the panels are up, we can actually pipeline the data into monitors that we will have in our science lab,” she said. “The kids will be able to use the data and see how this is actually working. Plus we will have a kiosk in the school and in the event center with real-time data showing how the solar panels are affecting our electric costs.”

William Wiener, Pinnacle Executive Director, said the school’s board was behind the project from the beginning, and considers this venture “one of the landmarks” of his career.

“Through our partnership with Distributed Sun and Bella Energy, we’re demonstrating our commitment to alternative energy sources and the need for reducing our carbon-footprint,” he said. “It’s been a longtime coming and I would hope other schools consider going green.”

Denver-based Bella Energy is the construction firm taking on the task, building the 662 kilowatt solar electric generation system for the charter school. Completion is anticipated by the end of April.

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