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Elmwood – Illinois Wind School

September 20th, 2013

On August 28th, Elmwood CUSD #322 cut the ribbon on its 3.7 Skystream wind turbine at its Jr/Sr High School at 301 West Butternut Street in Elmwood, Illinois. The turbine is rated at 2.4 kW.

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Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation provided a $40,000 grant to help offset 90% of the cost of the wind turbine project. Western Illinois University provided support for the data system. The project will appear on the IllinoisWindSchools.org web site in September.

The wind turbine is being used as a teaching tool at both the Jr/Sr High School and the elementary school.

The event was held at Whitney Field and included students, faculty, some guest speakers elected officials, as well as a local TV station. The event started at 9 :00 am and including a formal ribbon cutting.

Roger Alvey, the District Superintendent, hosted the event that included Steve Smith from the Farnsworth Group (Consultant), teachers Todd Hollis (Elmwood High School) and Cindy Alcaraz (Elmwood Jr High School), Dick Taylor of the City of Elmwood, Illinois State Senator Darin LaHood serving the 37th District, and Glen Kizer representing Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

The wind generated electricity is being monitored so that the students at both schools will be able to see how much electricity is being produced by the turbine.

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Saint Andrew School is latest Illinois Solar School

August 3rd, 2013

At 1710 W. Addison Street in Chicago, Illinois, there is a wonderful school building with a piece of new technology, a 1+ kW solar electricity system.  The photovoltaic (PV) system will be used as a teaching tool in the classroom and is visible from those same classrooms. Live data can be found on Illinoissolarschools.org

St. Andrew Solar Panels

St. Andrew Solar Panels

The school is for students up through the 8th grade.  Allen Ackermann is the Principal.  Earth Wind and Solar did the solar installation.

There is a Solar Farm in Rockford, Illinois

July 18th, 2013

The Rockford Solar Farm

It is technically called “the Rockford Solar Farm at Rockford Airport.”  It is a 3 MW solar electricity system that generates more than 4,000 MWH per year.  It is on a 30 degree tilt that is fixed and south facing.

The Rockford Solar Farm

All of the panels are high efficiency 290 watt poly modules which are manufactured by the Wanxiang Company and most of them are assembled in their Rockford, Illinois facility.  The site is about 70 acres and was provided in the form of a long term lease with the Rockford Airport Authority and the City of Rockford, Illinois.

The Rockford Solar Farm

The project cost approximately $13 million including project development, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), interconnection, project management and administration and construction financing.  Another 40 MW is being planned and may start later in 2013 or 2014.  If you have any questions about this project, you may e mail Daniel Li at Dli@Wanxiang.com.

Illinois Solar School at Alexander Grade School by Glen Kizer

July 7th, 2013

Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICECF) funded a 1 kW solar electricity system at the Alexander Grade School in Alexander, Illinois.

The school is one of those classic buildings that driving by and seeing all of the brick might cause someone to call it an “old” building.  And it is an older school building but it is a classic because it has huge windows in every classroom allowing in tons of natural light and beautiful woodwork and a fantastic gym.  But it is one of the cleanest schools I have ever seen and the security is tight.  For an old building, there are fantastic locking mechanisms on every door and a security camera alerting the office if anyone is on school grounds that is not supposed to be there.  It reminds me of the school I attended for my elementary school many years ago.

Alexander Grade

Alexander Grade

Alexander Grade

Alexander Grade

The installation was done by SunAir Systems by Dave Merrill and includes 6 Suntech 170 watt PV panels and a Solectria inverter.  The data can be read by going to IllinoisSolarSchools.org.

Andrew Stremlau is the principal and the primary contact for the school and his e mail can be found at the school page above.

Illinois Solar School at Saint Stanislaus Kostka

July 7th, 2013

Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICECF) funded a 1 kW solar electricity system at the Saint Stanislaus Kostka School on North Noble Street in Chicago, Illinois. This is an amazing place where children in PK3 through 8th grade have embraced the opportunity to learn about clean energy and have since implemented sustainable practices throughout the school – through recycling, source reduction, use of earth-friendly products and environmental education.

Saint Stanislaus

Saint Stanislaus

The installation was done by Earth, Wind And Solar Energy and includes 6 Mage 180 watt PV panels and an Enphase inverter. The students of Saint Stanislaus Kostka School enthusiastically observed the installation and applauded when the switch was flipped yelling “solar”. Riana Caravette, president of Earth Wind And Solar Energy says “This is a great opportunity for our children to start learning about clean energy, get into green careers and become future adopters of this technology.”

The data can be read by going to the IllinoisSolarSchools.org.

Len Kaihara is the primary contact for the school and his e mail can be found at the school page above.  The installation was completed in 2011.

Evergreen 6 Solar Regatta

May 1st, 2013

Hi my name is Joseph and I am a teacher’s assistant for Evergreen 6. I went to Evergreen 6 last year and was part of the Northern California Solar Regatta. We started building our boat from scratch last year. We had no boat or motor. We put out a Craigslist ad asking to buy a cheap boat. We had someone respond saying we could have one for free! We got the boat within a couple of weeks of the reply and started working on it.

Paradise Blog 6 Solar Panels

We worked on our solar panels at our first meeting. We tested the five panels SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utilities District) gave us to see which four panels put out the most watts. We learned how to wire the four panels together in parallel. Someone on the regatta team had a 24 volt wheelchair motor lying around so we hooked our panels up to it and pressed the ON button. The motor didn’t spin, so already we knew that we couldn’t run a motor that used that many watts and amps.

Motor

We kept working on it and we found the right motor which was a 24 volt 350 watt motor. We had this great plan on how to mount the motor too. A small group of Solar Regatta members stayed after school on one overcast Tuesday. They drilled through the bottom of the boat and attached our motor container. It was made from an old section of a gas line, part of a wrecked semi-truck’s exhaust pipe, and half of a giant pink Easter egg (for hydrodynamics). It worked perfectly until we found out that our motor was burning up during a test run at Paradise Lake. We had to redesign our idea. One of the regatta members had the idea of coating the motor in spray able truck bed liner, that way it would be waterproof and colder.

Designing how to put the panels on the boat was another task we worked on during the first couple meetings. We came up with a simple, yet efficient way to mount our panels. They wired them all together in parallel using conduit piping. Then we mounted them on the middle of the boat. The panels weren’t able to tilt but the races were to take place around noon, therefore it wouldn’t affect our energy productivity too much.

Then we were able to get the boat painted a racing green for free. Brittany Mittag’s dad, Shawn Mittag, did body work and painted our boat for free. Then we got decals for all of our sponsors to put on our boat. We only had two test runs, one at the public pool, and one at Paradise Lake. The one at the public pool went great. Lots of people came to watch us try it out. They got to see it on the water for the first time. It went great, of course we only went the length of the pool a couple times, but still, it was awesome. Our other test run was at Paradise Lake. It was a private test where all four pilots drove it around the lake. We were able to see how fast it could really go. It was really fun to watch, the boat was turning well and it was going pretty fast too.

At last the race rolled around towards the end of May. We were ready to go with our Evergreen 6 shirts and our tents. We headed to Rancho Seco the day before the race to spend the night at the campground. We set up camp and surveyed the race location. Then we went to sleep.

The next morning was crazy. We had breakfast and the towed our boat to the race. We got there early to set up an Evergreen 6 area with our solar ovens and recycling bins. When spectators started to get there we put our boat by the entrance and talked to people about our boat and solar. We also talked to them about all the recycled materials we used making our boat.

When the races started we carried our boat down to the dock. We were in the second race for endurance. The endurance race was a thirty minute long race that went in a long oval shape. We started off great and kept up with our competition. Around the twenty minute mark, our boat started slowing down. We didn’t know what was wrong. Our boat ended losing to our opponent by about one lap even though our boat kept getting progressively slower. When we took it out of the water we could smell a burnt rubber smell. We found out that it was coming from our motor. So, we opened up the motor and found that the rubber casings around the motor wires were melted. So we asked the officials if we could change our motor and they said yes. So we changed it quickly and got back on the lake.

Paradise 6 Boat

The last two races: slalom and sprint, went by fast. We didn’t race anybody though, we were just timed. It was really windy when we raced and the wind kept pushing us to the side. It was difficult for our pilots to control the boat but we did finish.

When it was time for us to see who won, we all sat as a group and waited for the results. Evergreen 6 didn’t win any categories but we were happy with our effort. Laguna Creek won overall but, Laguna Creek was the team that we only lost to by a lap in the endurance race so we were proud.

Paradise 6 Group Shot

This year we are racing again with some new kids and some kids from last year, myself included. We are figuring out a way to tilt our panels this year. We are using the same boat as last year with some adjustments. Thanks to our sponsors last year we still have enough money to do this again. A big thanks to PG&E Solar Schools Program ( Our largest supporter financially.), Rotary of Paradise ($500 grant), SMUD (Sponsoring and organizing the event), K.G. Thompson Construction, Mittag’s Auto Body, Matthew’s Roofing, 7up/RC of Chico, Favor Software, Ace Hardware of Paradise, Abshier’s Blacksmithing, Durham Batteries Plus, Chico Paradise Recreation and Parks District, and Nick Knezic – Boat Decals.

– Greg Holman at Paradise.

Joseph Levin is a 7th grader at Paradise Intermediate School. Joseph enjoys playing baseball with his friends, riding his bike, and hanging out with his friends. He is a hard working student and athlete and doesn’t complain.