• LPEA-Shaw Solar adding small solar systems to local middle schools


    Construction in Pagosa/Durango beginning this week

    DURANGO/PAGOSA SPRINGS, Colo. – Small photovoltaic solar systems, 4 kW each, will be going up this week at Pagosa Springs Middle School and next week at Miller Middle School in Durango thanks to members of La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) who contribute to the cooperative’s Local Green Power Fund. Shaw Solar, based in Durango, won the bid for both installations following LPEA’s request for proposals.

    Panels are expected to be installed on the roof of Pagosa Springs Middle School Wednesday, Oct. 31, with Shaw Solar to start on the construction of the pole on which the panels will be mounted at Miller Middle School on Friday or Monday, Nov. 2 or 5.

    The LPEA Board of Directors’ policy 361 currently directs LPEA staff to organize and fund installation of systems on middle schools within the cooperative’s service territory, as dollars are available. Bayfield Middle School received panels in June 2008 with Escalante Middle School (Durango) adding a system to power its greenhouse in August 2009.

    “The initial directive was to spread the donated funds around and introduce solar power to the broadest base possible in our service territory,” said Mark Schwantes, LPEA manager of corporate services. “Middle schools were selected with the idea that the solar panels could be used to educate students about how electricity is generated from the sun, while at the same time generating some power for the schools.”

    The LPEA local Green Power fund will invest a total of $33,200 for installation of the middle school systems. Monies are generated when LPEA members opt to contribute to the Local Green Power Fund by designating that a minimum of $0.08 be added to their electric bill each month. Members can choose to contribute at any level above the minimum $0.08 per month, and according to Schwantes, many members do.

    “Good things come in small packages,” said Schwantes noting that the school systems will be net metered and connected to LPEA’s system. “We now have 1,740 kW of solar power being generated locally by our members. Think small, but achieve big.”

    To sign up for the Local Green Power Fund or for more information about LPEA, visit www.lpea.coop.

    LPEA, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative, provides to its more than 30,000 members with in excess of 42,000 meters, safe, reliable electricity at the lowest reasonable cost, while being environmentally responsible.

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