Solar grant to energize school building

An environmentally friendly project is coming to South Whidbey Elementary School.

An environmentally friendly project is coming to South Whidbey Elementary School.

The South Whidbey School District recently received a $177,000 grant from the state Department of Commerce to install approximately 263 solar panels on the roof of the north campus building, which currently hosts students in kindergarten through fourth grade.

Dean Enell, a member of Langley’s citizen-led Climate Crisis Action Committee, identified the grant opportunity for the school district.

“I’m one of those guys who reads everything I can get ahold of on solar,” he said. “I had an inkling there were grants available from the state.”

Previously, Enell and Linda Irvine, another member of the Langley committee, worked together to bring solar panels to the Greenbank Farm.

According to Enell, the 100-kilowatt system on the school building should provide 108,800 kilowatt hours of energy per year, which is equivalent to $10,880 per year. The system can offset 130,556 pounds of carbon dioxide annually, which amounts to 6,528 gallons of gas or the yearly sequestration of 2,720 trees.

The grant covers about two-thirds of the cost of the project. Installation of the panels will take place in June 2023 and will likely finish before the new school year begins, according to JJ Leuenberger, director of Custodial, Maintenance and Capital Projects.

Enell said a design has not yet been finalized for the project.

When finished, the panels will provide energy for the elementary school in the form of electricity. Teachers will be able to use an app in the classroom to discuss with students about renewable energy sources, energy efficiency and electricity generation.