While a variety of St. Patrick’s Day activities occurred across the district on March 17, Pine Lake Middle School celebrated last week with a different take on the green theme – one of sustainability.
Students from Pine Lake’s Earth Service Corps, Speech and Debate Club and Drama program cut the ribbon on an installation of solar panels at their school. The project was a joint venture between Puget Sound Energy and the Issaquah School District, and was installed at no cost to the district. It’s part of PSE’s Community Solar program, which offers local solar energy as “shares” to PSE customers.
“I think it’s pretty great that we have the solar panels and that we get to use the sun for energy,” said Avery H., a sixth grader who is in the Earth Service Corps. “I’m also proud that our school is helping the environment.”
Tanishka P., another sixth grader in the PLMS Earth Service Corps, said “I think not only is it helping our school but many others with electricity, and maybe could even help people in need.”
Electric customers with PSE who enroll in the program subscribe to shares and receive bill credits for the energy that their shares generate. The renewable energy replaces some or all of the customers’ regular electricity. Other sites in this program are located in Ellensburg and Olympia. The program also offers an income-eligible option for customers who meet household income requirements to enroll in a single share of Community Solar at no cost, which allows them to save as much as $11 per month on their electric bill each month while also reducing their carbon footprint.
“The district is thrilled to be able to partner with Puget Sound Energy in providing green energy,” Superintendent Ron Thiele said. “Sustainability is one of the pillars my superintendency has been built on, in an effort to encourage environmental stewardship. While the district has received national awards for these efforts, providing green power is yet another great example of showing how the district and our students care about the planet.”
Thiele said that he has always felt that our youth are the leaders in efforts of sustainability, and that ISD students throughout the district have shown how we can dramatically reduce waste and energy consumption and have been recognized for their efforts through the King County Green Schools program.
“It’s a reminder that we are contributing to the solution,” Thiele said. “We can build everyone’s knowledge about sustainable energy. I hope we get the chance to do more in the future.”
PSE Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Andy Wappler described partnering to provide local solar energy as “the right thing to do” for the community. “Being able to offer our customers the option to subscribe to renewable energy generated within our communities is helping us work together to create a clean energy future for all,” Wappler added.
Pine Lake sixth grader Idan D. said “It’ great – it's providing renewable energy in a cooperative way.” Idan added that he thinks it’s equally important that this project can help educate students about the importance of being aware of sustainability and environmental issues.
Sammamish Mayor Christie Malchow spoke, thanking PSE and the ISD for their work to bring this project to fruition. King County District 3 Councilmember Sarah Perry also addressed the students and staff at the ribbon-cutting, and said she appreciates the focus of PSE and the district, told the students that they are inspiring and asked them to stay interested and involved.
The dignitaries posed for a photo, then invited all the students up, as PSE staff passed out many pairs of scissors to the students, who smiled and took selfies and video as they cut the ribbon on the new solar panels at PLMS.
To learn more about the Community Solar program, visit the PSE website.
In the photo above, Pine Lake Middle School students cut the ribbon on the project. In the photo below, shown from left to right, King County Councilmember Sarah Perry, PSE Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Andy Wappler, Sammamish Mayor Christie Malchow, Superintendent Ron Thiele (holding a plaque PSE created reusing a slice of an old power pole), and PSE Director of New Product Development Will Einstein.