Solar panels to cut down Jacobs High energy costs

  • Jacobs High School Green Eagles club sponsor and environmental science teacher Robert Frazier, center, Tuesday discusses solar panels the club secured, which are expected to generate 2 percent of the electricity needed to run the Algonquin school.

      Jacobs High School Green Eagles club sponsor and environmental science teacher Robert Frazier, center, Tuesday discusses solar panels the club secured, which are expected to generate 2 percent of the electricity needed to run the Algonquin school. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Jacobs High School environmental science teacher Robert Frazier Tuesday discusses solar panels that the school's Green Eagles club secured through a $7,000 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

      Jacobs High School environmental science teacher Robert Frazier Tuesday discusses solar panels that the school's Green Eagles club secured through a $7,000 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Glen Kizer of the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation discusses solar panels installed on the roof of Jacobs High School in Algonquin. Jacobs High's Green Eagles eco-friendly club secured a grant from the foundation to get the panels that are expected to generate 2 percent of the electricity for the school's operation.

      Glen Kizer of the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation discusses solar panels installed on the roof of Jacobs High School in Algonquin. Jacobs High's Green Eagles eco-friendly club secured a grant from the foundation to get the panels that are expected to generate 2 percent of the electricity for the school's operation. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/19/2016 4:39 PM

Jacobs High School has installed new rooftop solar panels that are expected to cut down the Algonquin school's energy costs.

Four students from the school's Green Eagles club, whose goal is spreading eco-friendly ideas and practices, applied for and secured a $7,000 grant for the project from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The foundation has awarded grants to more than 300 K-12 schools statewide to support the installation of small-scale solar and wind systems.

Jacobs' seven 270-watt solar panels on a 1.5 kilowatt photovoltaic system array were installed over the summer and have been online since Aug. 5.

"It is supposed to produce about 2 percent of the electricity that the school needs," said Robert Frazier, Jacobs environmental science teacher and Green Eagles Club sponsor. "It's just a small piece. The electric bill is about $200,000 a year, so it's a bit of a dent ... roughly $4,000 a year."

Senior Olivia Bogs, 17, of West Dundee, said 2 percent doesn't seem like a lot, but the cost savings eventually will add up.

"That was really eye-opening to see how much we can save, if we were to continue putting solar panels on the school," she said.

Though she's graduating this school year, Bogs said it's exciting to make a difference and leave a legacy.

"Working together, writing the grant ... seeing all that effort we put in pay off was really a rewarding experience," she said.

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To date, the panels have produced 575 kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is roughly the equivalent of reducing carbon emissions through planting 10 trees, Frazier said.

"It definitely has reduced the carbon footprint," he said.

Data collected from the solar panels is uploaded to a website and eventually will be incorporated into the school's science curriculum.

"We can pull up different reports. You can tell what the weather was like on certain days. There will be some mass calculations on how much carbon has not been put into the atmosphere," Frazier said. "We are also going to re-evaluate at the end of the year how useful it was."

Officials might consider adding more solar panels at Jacobs and other schools districtwide, he added.

Schools that have installed solar panels include Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville, Elgin Academy and Streamwood High School.

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