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MCPS planning to use solar panels for research

Posted: 6:36 PM, Oct 16, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-17 16:30:30-04

MISSOULA — Three solar panels, costing more than $160,000, are now sitting outside of Sentinel High School as part of the Missoula Urban Solar Pilot Project to research renewable energy.

NorthWestern Energy spokesman Steve Clawson says the project will help deliver clean energy to the city and provide a platform for learning.

“Our future leadership is in the schools coming up, and they need to understand as much as they can about renewable energy, solar in particular, and this is an opportunity to do that,” Clawson said.

Clawson says this will help NorthWestern determine how to implement renewable energy sources in future projects. Big Sky, Hellgate, and Willard Alternative high schools also have unique solar installations.

MCPS Superintendent Rob Watson says teachers are adjusting lesson plans because of this project. They’re including information on solar energy in classes such as science and math.

Students will get a first look at the data by the end of November, will study -- and then provide feedback to NorthWestern Energy -- and then the information will be made public.

“They looked across the curriculum and tried to figure out where they could plug in some lessons related to solar arrays, and how energy is produced by these arrays,” Watson said.

NorthWestern Energy gave a $250,000 check to MCPS on Wednesday , which will further help the educational research goals.

“As people drive by and see this, just to remember that this is a really great public private partnership and we’re really proud of it,” Watson said.