BRISTOL, Tenn. — Holston View Elementary School Principal Jerry Poteat says the newest feature on campus might be the first of its kind in Tennessee.
The 80-foot collection of solar panels will harness energy while providing a learning resource for students and teachers.
A brainstorming session between Poteat, a 35-year science instructor before moving into administration, and officials with Ecological Energy Systems of Bristol, Tenn., went from blueprint to concrete and steel in a little more than a month, with construction of a new solar pavilion classroom center nearing completion.
The photovoltaic unit is comprised of 200 panels stretching across 83 feet of property with each panel generating 245 watts of electricity converted from sunlight. The power offset by the project and produced by this solar system for school use is enough to generate electric power, an average of 65,000 to 75,000 kilowatts, needed to supply eight full-size homes, according to Ecological Vice President of Operations Nick Safay, netting eventual savings for the school system when it takes ownership of the solar unit.
Ecological is leasing the property from the city and the Board of Education, according to Safay, for this community service project that will incorporate a power purchasing agreement that Ecological will use to sell energy to the Tennessee Valley Authority and Bristol Tennessee Essential Services. Tax credits are also being allocated into the financing of the project because of the use of renewable energy sources, he said.
Regional educational neighbors like King University and Virginia Highlands Community College are also looking to integrate instructional programs at the solar energy spot at Holston View, according to the principal.
“It provides a significant amount of clean electricity to the power grid, it’s a learning resource for our students and it is a statement of this community that solar energy is important enough to put our resources behind it and make it work,” Poteat said.