GRAY – Gray-New Gloucester High School was awarded a $36,450 grant to fund an alternative energy demonstration project through a state program administered by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Gray-New Gloucester High School teacher Peter Reaman proposed the grant application to the Voluntary Renewable Resources Fund administered by the PUC. Reaman said he got the idea for the project observing the large metal roof area at the high school that faces south.

“I think there’s a mixed blessing with this project approval and how it will benefit the students and the school in light of high gas prices.”

But, Reaman is quick to add that it’s a demonstration project that basically serves as an educational outreach for students to track, monitor and benefit educationally for themselves and the towns of Gray and New Gloucester.

Sixteen photovoltaic solar panels will be placed on the roof of the high school this spring and monitored through software accessible through the Internet.

Students will conduct tours of the project and develop lessons and create displays.

“The real benefit of the project is its authenticity and ability to connect to all students in this district,” said SAD 15 Superintendent Victoria Burns. “Students in the grade school will be able to graph electricity that is generated while high school students can conduct more in-depth analyses,” she said.

The system will generate approximately 4,400 kilowatts of clean electricity annually and offset thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide and other pollutants, said Reaman. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that is closely associated with global climate change.

The solar panels will be installed during the spring by Energy Works, LLC.

The VRRF is a state program funded by people who voluntarily contribute money on their monthly utility bill and is administered through the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Grants of up to $50,000 are awarded to Maine based nonprofits that can demonstrate the educational benefit of proposed alternative energy projects. This year the VRRF awarded 10 projects worth a total of $362,889.

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