NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 3, 2009

School goes solar

State's largest municipal array up and running

(Continued)

"I can't take my eyes off it," said Hopping of the LCD screen that greets visitors upon entering the school. "It's great stuff."

The kind of information that students are being offered through the terminal, which is controlled via another data port located in Nock's front office, pertains to how much energy the solar panels are producing.

"There's a small monitor that's here that serves as the hub," Hopping said. "It provides data in real time. As the energy is actually being produced, we're seeing it. It tells you how much energy is being produced and what you can run by the energy that is produced."

Weather conditions and measurements of kilowatt energy is tracked via the Internet and sent down to the main office and can submit data to individual classrooms as well, he said.

"It breaks it down into usage examples or terms," Hopping said. "It shows you how many air conditioners can be powered with what's being produced, or how many fluorescent light bulbs or refrigerators. I learn something new every day."

Hopping said Ameresco technicians have been enormously helpful in teaching him and others about the system, and he expects the coming weeks will offer an opportunity for teachers and staff to learn more about the terminal and how it may be worked into the curriculum. For the time being, Hopping said the school is in the learning phase.

"We're still trying to work out all the bugs," Hopping said. "We don't know what exactly it's going to be capable of. Right now, a lot of the kids walk by the monitor, and they don't give it a second thought. That will change once we have a better understanding of what we have access to and how we can use it. The potential here is amazing."

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