Florida Power & Light Puts Renewable Energy in Students' Hands

Energy provider Florida Power & Light (FPL) has introduced the Next Generation Solar Education Station (NGSES) at L.A. Ainger Middle School in Rotonda West, FL. The working solar energy station, which provides 5 kilowatts of electricity, also serves as a tool for students to learn all about alternative energy.

FPL recently commissioned the DeSoto Next Generation Energy Center, the largest photovoltaic plant in the country. The company said it feels strongly that, in introducing next generation power sources, the next generation of scientists, engineers, and, of course, Florida energy consumers acquire an understanding of the benefits of such alternative energy, as well as how it works.

FPL has installed or has plans to install NGSES in five additional Florida schools, in partnership with solar energy products manufacturer SunPower Corp. The photovoltaic panels, the core component of both the DeSoto Center and the NGSES, convert sunlight directly into energy, which will help power their lighting and air conditioning systems with emissions-free energy and will save each school about $800 per year on utility bills. What makes the NGSES units unique, however, is that rather than being installed on rooftops, as is typical for solar panel arrays, they are installed at ground level in order to be used as educational tools.

Two of Ainger's science teachers spent time this summer learning how to incorporate solar energy lessons, in conjunction with the NGSES, into their curriculum. Teacher training and curriculum materials come courtesy of the FPL Group Foundation, a division of the parent company dedicated to community aid and improvement through philanthropic and volunteer efforts. The materials are available at the company Web site to all educators interested making solar energy awareness and knowledge a part of their science and/or social issues curricula.

About the Author

Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.