Image: Flickr via Aaron Gustafson
Here's a story with a sense of justice (albeit small) from a case of environmental wrongdoing: Shell Oil was sued two years ago for releasing millions of pounds of chemicals, including benzene and other toxins, from its Deer Park refinery in Texas into the air. It was violating the Clean Air Act—and of the $6 million legal settlement that resulted, $2 million is now helping two Texas schools go solar. Beautiful irony.The 700-panel, 145-kilowatt system is currently being installed on the roofs of two schools, one in Pasadena and one in South Houston. School faculty will use the panels to help teach students about renewable energy.
Grace Blasingame, who is on the science faculty at one of the schools, said, "We are installing three different solar technologies (panels) and will be monitoring them separately. Our students will experience a real life science experiment where they can make a hypothesis on which solar panel group will be the most efficient, collect the data, and draw conclusions."
Each school will also get a kiosk where students, along with the public, can monitor the panels' performance through a web-based program.
"We have two schools with multiple roof elevations and multiple solar-panel technologies and the added bonus of having a teaching tool for the students," said Patrick Bollinger, project manager at the company installing the panels. "The kids are going to study the energy production that will come out of the inverters."
There's no way to know exactly how much the schools will save in energy costs, but it is expected to be at least $10,000 of their $102,000 annual electricity bill.