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Cori, GRID Alternatives development officer, explains the process of generating power from the sun. Photo by Rachel Goings

PCS solar project is learning opportunity for students

By Rachel Goings

[email protected]

Plumas Charter School is completing the installation of solar panels on the rooftop of their Quincy Learning Center and business office this May. During the project, they took the opportunity to host education sessions for students in fourth through twelfth-grade to learn about the benefits of solar energy and the installation process.

GRID Alternatives from Sacramento is the company in charge of the project. Thanks to a grant obtained by Umpqua Bank, team members Dan, workforce coordinator and Cori, development officer spoke to students and led back-to-back education workshops on May 11.

The workshop started with Dan explaining how solar energy works, the parts of a solar panel and how they are constructed. He told students that solar energy has been widely available since 1974 and explained that solar panels typically last 15-20 years. “The PCS project will have 55 kilowatts on the roof, removing approximately 22 tons of carbon emissions per year,” he said.

Students asked insightful questions about efficiency, source materials and the process of generating electricity during the lesson. Dan and Cori demonstrated safety measures that the technicians use while working on the roof and let some of the students try on the gear.

The rooftop-solar grid is the first phase of the project and will be grid-tied, selling unused power back to PG&E. The team started the install on the roof and then moved to the ground to tie into the electrical system. The plan for the next phase of the project is to install a backup battery. With a backup battery, PCS will be able to utilize their own unused power generated during the day, after dark.

GRID Alternatives is a non-profit organization whose goal is to support communities to gain access to solar energy. “We want everyone to benefit from solar energy, no matter where they live,” said Cori. She explained that solar energy is just one tool in protecting the environment. The students offered more solutions to reducing our carbon footprint including practices like recycling, taking public transportation, using less power at home and upcycling.

Plumas Charter School operates learning centers in Quincy, Taylorsville and Chester. To learn more, visitwww.plumascharterschool.org.

Dan, the workforce coordinator from GRID Alternatives teaches students about the parts of a solar panel. Photo by Rachel Goings 
Students take a closer look at solar technology. Photo by Rachel Goings
During the demonstration, a student volunteer got to try on some of the solar-installation gear. Photo by Lori Hahn
The team from GRID Alternatives installing the grid on the roof at Plumas Charter School in Quincy. Photo by Rachel Goings

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