SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

August 14, 2009

Solar-panel grant keeps Beverly High going green

By Cate Lecuyer

BEVERLY — Thanks to a grant to install high-tech solar panels on the roof of the new building, Beverly High School expects to double the amount of energy it pulls from the sun.

Fred Hopps, chairman of the city's Clean Energy Advisory Committee, said about 15 percent to 20 percent of the school's electricity will be renewable.

"That's phenomenal," he said.

The photovoltaic panels are from a $300,000 grant from the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust. The school qualified based on the "commitment to incorporate renewable elements into the high school," said energy trust spokeswoman Emily Dahl.

In other words, the city was awarded more green for building green.

Beverly High School was one of 16 schools across the state to receive awards totaling more than $3 million toward green initiatives.

Hopps said with the new technology, the roof panels are about half the size of the existing solar panels on the hill and will produce about the same amount of energy — 100 kilowatts. In 2008, he said the existing panels — installed 28 years ago as the first solar park in the nation — produced enough energy to power 12 homes for a year.

The new panels, he said, won't cost the citizens of Beverly anything and will result in long-term savings.

"We'll continue to get free electricity from the sun for the high school for the next 30 years," he said. "Now we can say we're showing the history of clean energy and the future. We've got all that right there at the high school, and that's a pretty cool thing."

Staff writer Cate Lecuyer can be reached at clecuyer@salemnews.com.