FPL trains science teachers on solar energy, gives grants for projects
By Samantha Joseph/Staff writer
MARTIN COUNTY – As it emerges as the nation’s second largest producer of solar energy, Florida Power & Light is taking the message of natural power to some of the area’s youngest residents.
The utilities company sponsored a workshop this summer and presented science teachers with kits and a curriculum for bringing discussions on solar energy to local classrooms.
The effort came on the heels of FPL’s announcement that it would build miniature solar arrays – ground-mounted panels that can power up to five classrooms – in six schools across its service area.
In Martin County, J.D. Parker Elementary School is set to get one of the arrays as part of the company’s pilot program, company representatives said.
The school projects are smaller scale versions of massive systems that FPL has built across the state, including at its power plant in Indiantown.
"We’re doing it because we want the children of the school to be able to see the system," said Maureen Wilt, program manager for the solar education station project. "We want to educate students in Florida about renewable energy and alternative ways to create electricity. We think there is no better way to start than with young people."
The project costs FPL about $80,000 per school to cover the expenses of training teachers and school maintenance staff, providing teaching kits and funding the installation of the solar panels.
Its part of a three-tier program that will also see the electricity company commit $100,000 to fund grants for teacher-created projects in the 35 counties where it operates. Beginning Sept. 15, the grant program will offer $500 to $1,000 to fund classroom projects that focus on renewable energy.
For more information, visit www.fpl.com after Sept. 15 and click the "community" link.