Libertyville High turning to sun for energy

Updated 9/20/2013 6:36 PM
  • Solar panels on the roof at Libertyville High School.

    Solar panels on the roof at Libertyville High School. Courtesy of Community High School District 128

A solar-power project at Libertyville High School could expand if officials land the necessary funding.

Photovoltaic equipment that helps collect the sun's rays and turn them into usable electricity recently was added to the roof of the school as part of the science curriculum, District 128 board President Pat Groody said. A grant paid for the installation.

Officials now are considering applying for a new, larger grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation that would help fund the purchase of more extensive network of solar cells at Libertyville High and at sister school Vernon Hills High, officials said. The equipment could be connected to the schools' electrical system.

That way, the equipment would help teach kids about clean energy and save the district some money by lowering energy costs, officials said.

For Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 board member Jim Batson, the educational opportunities trump the potential financial savings -- particularly in light of the national effort to push kids into scientific and technological careers.

"The real value here is in the learning environment and letting students see these in action," said Batson, who leads the board's facilities committee.

"The younger we get them started, the more likely it is they'll see that as a potential career option," Batson added.

The school board will discuss the project Monday when it meets at Vernon Hills High, 145 N. Lakeview Parkway. The session starts at 7 p.m.

Board member Karin Lundstedt wants to make sure the project is cost effective before moving forward. Regardless, she said she's excited about the proposal.

"It's something definitely worth pursuing, and I'm anxious to hear more," Lundstedt said.

A few other suburban schools have solar arrays.

Solar panels were installed at Stevenson High in 2008 to generate power for an environmental-science room.

Solar panels were installed on Streamwood High School's roof in 2012. In the first two months of use, the array produced enough energy to power 11 houses for one day and saved the school about $35 in electricity costs, officials said at the time.

Libertyville's Highland Middle School, Elgin Academy and Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville have solar equipment, too.

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