Solar panels to provide energy savings, learning benefits to two Mankato schools – Mankato Free Press

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MANKATO — Dakota Meadows and Prairie Winds middle schools are going solar after each received $84,000 for solar panels from the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Solar for Schools grant.

The solar panels, which will generate 40 kilowatts of energy, will not only provide energy savings benefits to the district but also create learning opportunities for students.

Mankato district Director of Facilities and Safety Scott Hogen said the panels could be used in curriculum geared toward solar generation not only in science but in math.

The district is working with Clean Energy Resource Teams, a Minnesota-based group that helps implement community-based energy projects, to develop lessons for the classroom and at the middle school level.

“We had an initial meeting with the CERT’s group, got some information on potential types of curriculum that can be created,” Hogen said.

“Now it’s just a matter of sitting down with our curriculum teams here in the district and developing those different types of courses.”

Hogen said each site also will save about $10,000 to $12,000 in energy savings.

Dakota Meadows and Prairie Winds aren’t the first schools in the district to benefit from solar power.

Hogen said the majority of the schools in the district utilize Xcel Energy solar gardens.

All but four district sites — Dakota Meadows, Prairie Winds, East High School and the Center for Learning — receive 110% of their energy from these gardens; Hogen said the district receives solar credits for the energy generated, which in turn reduces their annual energy costs by $175,000.

Hogen said they’ll see how the two middle schools benefit from the panels first before looking at other schools.

“We’re going to see how this goes and (will) potentially look at East High School in the future hopefully going for a grant for that site,” he said.

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