Pasco's Centennial Middle School gets solar energy system

11/21/11 Olivia Kabat
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Centennial Middle School in Pasco County is getting a solar array system that will provide energy for the school. The solar array being installed by Tampa Electric and the Florida Solar Energy Center will provide educational opportunities for the students as well.

Cherie Jacobs, corporate spokesperson for Tampa Electric, says Centennial is the first school in Pasco County to receive a solar array.

“Tampa Electric has a new program where we will invest $1.5 million each year for 5 years to help our customers install renewable technologies. The solar array at Centennial Middle School is the first system to be installed under our new program and we will do one school a year for 5 years.”

John Soler, Energy Coordinator with the District School Board of Pasco County says there is a solar energy curriculum that students will be taught.

“There is a curriculum component associated with this that the Florida Solar Energy Center put together. They’ll be sharing that information with the school district and we of course will share it with the science teachers and the science teachers will share it with their students.”

According to Jacobs from Tampa Electric, all the students at Centennial Middle School will have the opportunity to learn about energy efficiency and solar power.

“Centennial Middle School in the Dade City area has about 650 students and they were selected to participate in this program. The students will be able to look at the energy that the solar array is producing, that will be available online, and they can use that in the classroom. It will help them not only gain a basic understanding of how solar array’s work, but it will also improve their skills in math and science. It will help them understand the importance of renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

Construction is underway for the solar array at Centennial. Once completed, the solar energy system will provide electricity as well as back-up emergency power for the school.

“The solar array is 10-kilowatts and it will supply power to the school during normal operation. But it also has back-up batteries that are included as part of this project. For example, if we have a hurricane and the school loses power for a period of time, that solar array will automatically turn on. It will supply power to the school’s critical needs for things like lights so folks can get out of the building. So the essential elements of that school will automatically turn on.”

Once it’s fully installed, the Florida Solar Energy Center will collect data from the solar power system for teachers to use in the classroom.

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