Traverse City News and Events

Another Local School Goes Solar

Feb. 19, 2020

Westwoods Elementary School is poised to become be the third school in the Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) district to install solar panels on its premises. The school is roughly halfway to its fundraising goal for the solar power system and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help raise the rest.

Westwoods began raising money for the solar project last fall, by way of a community can and bottle drive that raised more than $1,000. The school has since added to the fundraising total through proceeds from an auction, donations from local businesses, and grant dollars from both the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation and the Rotary Club of Traverse City.

In total, Westwoods has raised more than $12,000. The project, which will install a 32-panel, 10-kilowatt solar array on school property, is expected to cost $24,500. The school recently launched the “second phase” of its fundraising efforts on SolaRISE, a renewable energy crowdfunding services that is “powered” by Traverse City’s Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities. SolaRISE is intended specifically to help schools and nonprofit organizations raise money for solar installations and other renewable energy investments.

If all goes well with fundraising, the installation of the ground-mounted solar array will begin in June. The installation will coincide with a renovation of the Westwoods Elementary entrance area. The crowdfunding page notes that coordinating the solar installation with the renovation project will help reduce cost.

While the solar installation will generate a small amount of power for Westwoods, the school’s primary intention is to use the new array as an educational tool. The panels “will inspire learning about conservation, energy, the solar system, environment, math, data analysis, and responsible behavior.”

With this project, Westwoods is following in the footsteps of two TCAPS schools that have already installed on-site solar arrays. Traverse Heights Elementary installed a 10kW solar array in 2016, while Central High School implemented a 20kW system in 2018.

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