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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The City of Fort St. John has always gravitated towards renewable energy like solar power and now they are working with NEAT and Urban Systems to relay the importance of such energy to students.

The city provided the funding for the project and Karen Mason-Bennett with NEAT says that they worked with two teachers, one at Bert Bowes Middle School and another at Dr. Kearney Middle School.

“We probably had about four grade nine classes in total and we installed a solar panel on the each school.”

Along with the solar panel installation, they also ran read out boxes down to the science classrooms so that students could keep track of power consumption.

“The students were charged with tracking how much power that one panel was creating. What we were looking at doing is exploring solar PV. So using solar to create electricity as opposed to using solar to create heat so that is slightly different to the solar hot water heater that is on the wall at City Hall. We’re looking at that because Fort St. John is a solar city and we could be utilizing solar power to lessen the load on the grid quite substantially, we just haven’t quite got there yet so some of that exploration is looking at ‘what that possible?’ and ‘does the technology actually work?’.”

Mason-Bennett says that at each school, there were a couple of students that ended up taking over the project because of their interest in the program.

“It started out as a classroom presentation so everyone knew what was going on initially and then we had a couple of students that were interested and really picked it up which was great to see and they carried that data collections throughout. They seemed to be quite engaged around the process and they certainly see the connection between creating energy security and utilizing multiple sources of energy to create a grid that has redundancies built in.”

NEAT says that they hope to continue the process and gather a full year of data compared to just a couple of months. Mason-Bennett says this way, they will have a better picture of what is possible and the data would be more reliable.

Students started after Spring Break and have collected close to two and a half months worth of data.

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