posttrib
CHARMING 
Weather Updates

Career Center students install photovoltaic panels to supply power

NIPSCO President Kathleen O’Leary (center) chats with students after  ribbcutting for an alternative energy demonstratiarePorter County Career Technical Center

NIPSCO President Kathleen O’Leary (center) chats with students after a ribbon cutting for an alternative energy demonstration area at the Porter County Career and Technical Center in Valparaiso, Ind., on Jan. 16, 2013. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media

storyidforme: 43381947
tmspicid: 16052530
fileheaderid: 7197015

Breakout

Breakout text.

Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: February 24, 2013 6:13AM



A little sunshine can go a long way — enough to power the lights in a hallway at the Porter County Career and Technical Center initially, and then enough to provide electricity to two homes.

That’s what students at the Career Center found out when they installed photovoltaic panels on the roof of the building at 1005 Franklin St., a project that began with learning how to put a couple of panels on the roof about two years ago.

The most recent stage of the project involved students installing 36 solar panels on the roof. The center conducted a ribbon cutting for that portion of the work on Jan. 16.

Initially, said Jon Groth, the center’s principal and director, students put two solar panels on the roof with the goal of generating enough power to “light a couple of light bulbs.”

The panels generated more power than expected and, along with a wind generator also installed by the students, began providing immediate energy savings.

“Right now, every other light in this hallway is generated by alternative energy on our roof,” Groth said, adding the center now has motion-detecting lights to further cut energy bills, and also switched to LED light bulbs. “It’s gotten us all thinking about energy reduction, reducing our footprint and reducing our energy costs.”

The school, which serves all high schools in Porter County, plus Hobart High School, is selling what’s generated by those 36 photovoltaic panels back to Northern Indiana Public Service Co.

The panels, officials said, generate enough electricity to power two houses. The school receives 30 cents per kilowatt for the energy it sells back to NIPSCO, and generated $52 in revenue over a week-and-a-half.

“That is perpetual revenue,” Groth said.

The utility has nearly 100 customers generating alternative energy, NIPSCO President Kathleen O’Leary said, and “this is the only one that’s a school.”

NIPSCO soon will offer a green power program, she added, under which customers can designate all or a portion of their electricity to be generated by new or renewable energy tools.

Students involved with the project said the work provided firsthand knowledge about renewable energy, something their peers don’t have.

“It was definitely a huge opportunity for me,” said Matt Stetzenmeyer, a senior at Valparaiso High School. “I got to learn about alternative energy, something I knew nothing about. We set everything up.”



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.