By Shawn Byrne
Solar angels have smiled down on Wickenburg High School.
Arizona Public Service (APS) awarded Wickenburg Unified School District with a $2 million grant to install a solar system on the campus at the high school.
The district expects to save about $1, 500 a month on its electric bill, and another plus is that about 12 rows of parking at WHS will be offering shade from the solar installation.
“We’re blessed to have this in Wickenburg,” Howard Carlson, WUSD superintendent, told the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce Education Committee on Aug. 27. “I think it will save us about $1,500 a month, but that’s not official.”
One of the most frequent questions the district gets asked is whether the energy from the solar system will be used to power the district’s schools. It won’t be used to do that, but it will provide credits to the WUSD electric bill.
There is one complication on the horizon, but everyone involved is hopeful it’ll be resolved when the project is complete. The project is expected to be completed by the end of October, but the Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts has The Bellamy Brothers scheduled Nov. 7.
“We don’t want construction interfering with that,” Carlson said. “APS is overseeing the project, but there is a contractor.”
Harmon Electric out of Phoenix is doing the construction. The family-owned company has been in business since 1975.
Another advantage of the grant and solar system project is that APS will monitor and maintain the system for 20 years.
The grant is part of APS’s Schools and Government Program. More than 300 schools have had solar systems installed through the program and has provided students a chance to learn about renewable energy.
The cost benefits can be substantial. Washington Elementary School District in the Phoenix-Glendale area “has saved more than $18 million since 2008,” according to APS’s website.