Students installing solar panels

AUSTIN, Minn. – Three years of hard work are paying off. Students in the Austin High School “Go Green Club” are installing solar panels.

“We had to do a lot of fundraising. We had to help out a lot of other organizations, so I feel pretty proud to be here working on this. This feels like the final step,” said Akeen Oman, who graduated from Austin High School last spring.

They are installing a ten kilowatt solar panel system on a building adjacent to the high school. This type of system could power some houses.

“With the size of the school district, this size system isn’t going to actually cover the whole school, but it would definitely help shed off some of the load that they have,” said Chad Katzung, a Business Representative with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Dozens of donors and volunteers are helping the Go Green Club students with the installation, including many IBEW members.

“We all want to give back to our communities, because some of our members have been working at the school. They work right here and their kids are students here, so they want to give back to the community,” Katzung said.

They plan to use the energy to power a nearby computer lab as a way to lower energy bills. They will also use it as a learning tool.

“We can actually teach this information at the high school, elementary school and middle school levels. That’s our next step, to actually get the curriculum out there so they can monitor the system and see how much energy it’s collecting,” said Go Green Club Advisor, Kate Soiney.

All of this was made possible by the idea of less than ten Go Green Club students.

“It tells everybody that you can do your part. Every individual has a responsibility to our earth, and we’re doing our part,” Soiney said.

Katzung said that solar energy is taking off right now, sometimes faster than wind energy. He said that is because solar panels are becoming much more affordable.

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