MISHICOT - Some classrooms at Mishicot High School are now being powered by the sun. New solar panels are hanging at the school, thanks to a grant from Wisconsin Public Service.
Sophomore Olivia Tulachka wants to learn more about renewable energy.
"I want to know how it helps, what it will help and what it will support in school," said Olivia.
Ten panels were installed behind the school last summer. They will generate enough electricity each year to power three to four classrooms.
The equipment will save the school about $300 a year. Mishicot principal Thomas Ellenbecker said their educational value is priceless.
"We understand that renewable energy is a hot topic right now, not just in our surrounding areas but throughout the world," said Ellenbecker.
Mishicot is the 50th Wisconsin high school to receive the panels from Wisconsin Public Service, said Mike Moore, the SolarWise manager.
"Someday, they're going to be the ones that have to deal with the real hard questions about 'Where are we going to get our power from? What are we going to do in regards to the environment? How are we going to pay for these sort of things?' So they need to be knowledgeable now," said Moore.
WPS staff was at the school on Friday to dedicate the panels and to teach students about other forms of renewable energy.
"It's a good day for them to come, learn a little bit about what WPS is doing in regards to the community and the environment," said Moore.
The SolarWise program is in its 17th year and is funded by donations from WPS customers. It teaches students about a growing trend in America.
According to the United States Department of Energy, renewable energy methods like solar, hydro and wind accounted for more than 13 percent of the electricity produced in the U.S. last year. That is up from about eight percent in 2001.
Students like Olivia said they are eager to explore something new.
"Better for the environment, just how it helps the environment," she said.
The solar panels cost WPS $30,000. About three-dozen area schools have received the solar panels, including all the major high schools in the Green Bay metro area.
The company also provides curriculum to integrate the panels in their science, math and agriculture classes.
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