Monday, November 14, 2011

Medway Middle School Celebrates Adding Solar Panels

The sun shone on Medway Middle School on Thursday, generating electricity, good feelings and a hug for Mother Earth.

At a ceremony in the auditorium celebrating 1,404 new solar panels on the building's roof, students learned that the array will provide the school with clean energy as well as lower electric bills.

Assistant Superintendent David Verdolino tried to get students to understand the significance of the work.

"So why are we here today?" he asked the students, some of whom are members of the school's "Green Team," a club dedicated to helping the environment.

"Maybe our parents helped pay for it?" one student asked.

"So we can learn about solar panels," answered another.

"My answer is because you are the ones with the most to get out of this," Verdolino said. "Let it be motivation that you can make a difference."

Medway High School added solar panels last year, but the middle school is three times as big a project, Verdolino said. The panels will provide about 70 percent of the school's electricity, school officials have said.

The ceremony, which included speakers from the offices of Gov. Deval Patrick, U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-3rd, and state Rep. Carolyn Dykema, D-Holliston, celebrated the completion of the panels' installation.

The panels provide 386,000 watts of energy to the school, said Broadway Electrical Co. CEO Lawrence Hurwitz, whose company installed the array for free. The company will receive tax credits or tax advantages in the years following the project.

Solar work is part of the future of electricity, providing an inexpensive and environmentally sound alternative to other energy sources, Hurwitz said. Even his own company thrives from its benefits, he said.

"We have 100 to 125 electricians, and if we weren't doing solar work, we'd probably be down to almost 50," he told students.

Meg Lusardi, director of the green communities division for the Department of Energy and Resources, said the school was proof that communities are taking the green movement seriously. Gov. Patrick is committed to seeing similar projects, she said.

Through Patrick's Green Communities Act and the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Medway received a $150,000 grant from the federal energy grant program to install the panels. The project was at no cost to the school district or the town.

"When Gov. Patrick came into office, there was less than 4 megawatts of green energy. We're expecting 100 megawatts by the end of the year," Lusardi said.

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