IRCSD’s Major Solar Power Project Finally Running


Screenshot of BoE members who drove the solar array project.

Meghan Koerick, Staff Reporter

Indian River is really going green. The 2000 solar panels are finally booted up at the Indian River Intermediate school.

The panels themselves provide enough power to completely run the IRIS building but will also be used for education with the renewable energy science class at Indian River High School.

Since last December Indian River has been waiting for the okay from National Grid to sign off on the $1.3 million dollar solar project. They had to wait for approval for safety reasons and to operate properly on the electrical grid.

National Grid required the school to install a breaker system that would shut off the solar panels if the town’s power went out. Jim Kettrick, the district superintendent, stated that “If there’s an interruption in power, [this breaker] will automatically switch off the system, and then they’ll have to manually reset. This disables current inadvertently going back out into the lines, creating a safety hazard for workers on the line,” according to the WWNYTV news.

Solar energy is better for the environment and helps save money on the electric bill according to Origin Energy. With renewable energy you are only paying for what you use from the grid so it will be cheaper than regular electricity, cost-wise. Solar power reduces the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere so it is better for the environment.

Screenshot from coverage.
Screenshot from coverage.

The Intermediate building also uses geothermal energy which is heat from the Earth. It is both clean and sustainable and captures an almost unlimited amount of heat produced by the Earth. They use it throughout the whole school for both heating and cooling purposes.

Currently about half of the High School has geothermal heating and cooling, and eventually the whole building will have these systems as well.  Installation of a second round of air exchange units is ongoing at press time.

Geothermal energy is renewable energy because once heat energy from ground water is “captured,” it can be pumped back into the ground. Geothermal power plants do not produce greenhouse gases that can be harmful to the atmosphere.

The Indian River School District is one of the only districts in the region to have both of these types of systems, solar and geothermal, saving money and keeping the earth clean by using renewable energy in some of their schools.

The Board of Education members who spearheaded the solar project hope we can eventually expand our use of renewable energy to the other schools in the district.