Anyone who has driven by Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School in the past week may have noticed something new.


Anyone who has driven by Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School in the past week  may have noticed something new.



An array of 10,000 kilowatt solar panels was constructed by engineers of Independent Green Technologies out of Tallahassee.



The array, paid for through a Duke Energy grant, will supply the school with 8-12 hours of power a day and continuously recharges during daylight hours.



The materials were provided by the Florida Solar Energy Centers in Cocoa.



“The grid makes power as it uses power,” said Greg Linton, Supervisor at IGT. “It also relieves the school’s carbon footprint.”



Principal Jeremy Knapp said that he applied for the grant in November 2012 and that the system has been a long time coming.



“Schools are always struggling with money,” said Knapp. “We hope that over time, this grid will be something that helps.



“We hope we can save a couple thousand dollars every few months.”



After materials were delivered, construction of the grid took just 10 days and Knapp anticipated being able to turn it on before the end of this week.



The grid will buffer the school’s electricity but will not run independently.



If the school loses the power, the array will not be enough to keep the lights on, but for Knapp it’s a step in the right direction.



Knapp said that solar systems are common in cities such as Miami and throughout Central Florida and he’s happy to bring the technology to Port St. Joe.



If the grid turns out to be a money-saver for the school, the school may raise funds and expand the array in the future.



The grid will also play a role in upcoming science classes.



Students will be able to see how much energy is coming in and they’ll have the ability to compare it to other schools. Knapp said that the grid has already received a lot of attention and he’s excited for students to learn how it works.



“People are very interested,” said Knapp. “This is a $200,000 system and it hasn’t cost us a dime.



“That’s a huge benefit to the school and the students.”