Franklin Pierce School District & Jason Lee Middle School to build solar learning labs on campus

Evergreen Options participants vote for schools to win grants worth up to $50,000

Franklin Pierce School District (FPSD) and Tacoma’s Jason Lee Middle School are the 2019 recipients of Evergreen Options Renewable Energy Project grants, winning a vote by Evergreen Options participants. Both Jason Lee Middle School and FPSD plan to build solar learning labs on campus, reducing energy costs and teaching students about the importance of renewable energy.

Evergreen Options participants voted in August for their favorite proposal from three different nonprofit organizations. On Thursday, votes were tallied and Jason Lee Middle School and FPSD’s proposals won. The funding for these grants comes directly from customers who join Evergreen Options. Participants pay a monthly fee, as small as $3, to help offset their carbon footprint by supporting renewable energy generation in our region and local renewable energy projects through this grant program.

“Evergreen Options participants vote to support clean, renewable energy every month with their dollars and last month they voted overwhelming to support local schools in our annual grant election,” said Tacoma Power Superintendent Chris Robinson. “The solar learning labs proposed by Franklin Pierce School District and Jason Lee Middle School will power the very institutions powering our youth, allowing students and the community to see renewable energy in action.”

Jason Lee Middle School in Tacoma will install a 99.9-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array with data monitoring system, first envisioned by three 8th grade students at the school. Once complete, it will be the second largest solar array in Tacoma, providing hands-on energy and data collection from the roof of their athletics building.

“It’s hard to know who’s more excited, school staff or students,” said Kathleen Hall, the Jason Lee Middle School science teacher who applied for the Evergreen Options grant. “We’ve been envisioning solar at Jason Lee for a long time and working to make it a reality. This is the foundation funding we needed to get the project started.”

Jason Lee’s solar array will be the first solar installation in the Tacoma Public School District and serve as a model for future innovative technology projects in the district. Through Jason Lee’s annual Sustainability Fair and ongoing partnerships with students in the Tacoma Community College Engineering Department, the solar installation at Jason Lee will serve as a living laboratory for learning about solar energy for Jason Lee’s students and the community at large.

Once complete, the solar project is estimated to save Jason Lee Middle School more than $5,000 a year on energy costs.

Tacoma Power community solar units on sale Feb. 23 (PHOTO COURTESY TACOMA PUBLIC UTILITIES)

(FILE PHOTO COURTESY TACOMA PUBLIC UTILITIES)

Franklin Pierce School District (FPSD) will use its $50,000 grant to construct a 21 kW solar photovoltaic array at the District’s Farm to act as a solar learning lab for students. The energy collected at the project will go to power the Farm’s walk-in cooler where fresh produce is stored.

“A solar learning lab at the Farm at Franklin Pierce will expand learning opportunities about food production to include energy production and consumption,” said Joel Zylstra, FPS spokesperson. “Students will get a glimpse of how their personal decisions around food and energy will impact our world.”

The Farm consists of a two-acre vegetable farm, an orchard, and community garden space – all managed in partnership between Harvest Pierce County and Franklin Pierce schools. The Farm has become a teaching and learning space that not only engages hundreds of students and community participants in education related to sustainable agriculture, but also provides food for the school cafeteria, district families, and food banks around the county.

The solar project is estimated to save the District more than $1,800 a year on energy costs.

Evergreen Options Renewable Energy Grants

In the fall of 2017, Tacoma Power launched an innovative grant program for local schools, nonprofits and government agencies to submit proposals for deploying their own renewable energy projects.

This annual grant program helps recipients generate a portion of their own electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar. Recipients can also get credit for any extra electricity provided back to the utility. Funding comes from Tacoma Power residential and business customers who participate in the Evergreen Options program.

Visit MyTPU.org/Evergreen for more information about Evergreen Options.

– Tacoma Public Utilities