During the week of Oct. 22, workers from Eland Electric Corp., Green Bay, installed solar modules just northeast of Washington Island School.
One part of the solar energy system is a fixed ground mount, and the other part is dual access tracking mount. The tracking mount rotates east to west and also tilts north to south, depending on the location of the sun at every moment.
"A built-in photo-optic sensor tells it how to tilt and move," said Jesse Michalski, of Eland Electric, who is supervising the installation.
"We expect that this system will supply approximately 5 percent of the energy needed at Washington Island School," said Michalski. "On weekends or in the summer, when the school doesn’t use much energy, any excess can be shifted over to the Washington Island Electric Co-op for distribution to residents."
Electric Co-op Manager Robert Cornell arranged for the installation, and the Electric Co-op is paying for the system out of funds set aside for local energy improvement projects.
"The funds come from the state-mandated public benefit tax that each meter pays yearly," explained Cornell. "Of the $16 collected, $8 is set aside for low-income assistance and $8 is set aside for energy conservation, education and demonstration projects. This money has been used on Washington Island to replace streetlights, lighting in public facilities, and in other projects that benefit the taxpayers and community as a whole and therefore all Co-op members."
New equipment to convert the power from DC electricity to usable AC electricity has been installed in the school's science classroom, and the system began supplying power to the school on Oct. 27.
Two teachers at Washington Island School -- Larry Hermanson and Steve Waldron -- attended a daylong training session in Wausau that is offered through Wisconsin Public Service, which supplies a classroom curriculum for the Solarwise Schools program.
The public will be able to track the solar modules by means of a special web page that will show energy production and energy use.
Above Photo by Mary Marik: Workers from Eland Electric Corp. installing solar modules at Washington Island School on Oct. 24. The fixed ground mount is on the right in the distance. In the foreground on the left is the tracking mount that had not yet been put in place.