BAR HARBOR—During the school committee meeting on April 5, Conners Emerson students Alex Ren, Owen Dwyer and Robert Stewart led a presentation about plans to install solar panels at the school.
Ren launched the discussion with an overview that listed reasons why solar panels should be installed and explained that, due to a solar power purchase agreement, there would be no upfront cost for the school.
“It will save the school approximately a million dollars in 25 years,” said Ren.
There would be consistent energy during the winter months and the solar panels would continue to collect energy during the summer break.
According to the sixth grader, the solar panels would reduce approximately 150 tons of carbon emissions per year.
Stewart stressed the importance of going solar when he explained the impacts of climate change as a result of carbon emissions. “It is projected that sea levels will rise 2-3 meters by 2100 if we don’t curb our carbon emissions,” he said.
Stewart said that climate change is caused because carbon dioxide increases global temperatures, which means water will expand and ice sheets will melt, adding it “will submerge large parts of MDI, including a large part of Bar Harbor.”
He used the island nation Kiribati as an example of a place like Mount Desert Island that will eventually be completely submerged as a result of climate change.
“Although humans have caused climate change, we can also stop it,” said Steward, who noted that doing things like running on green energy and not using as much fossil fuels can help.
The students then presented two options for the installation of solar panels, depending on the approval of a larger building project proposal that calls for complete renovation and expansion of the school.
If the Conners Emerson building project is approved, Dwyer said “our plan is to set aside a plan that will be enacted once the building project is completed. The solar panels will not be installed until it [building project] is finished, which would take about five years.”
Dwyer added that it would be done by first contacting Sundog Solar, a Searsport-based solar energy contractor, for estimates and their opinion on the best places to put solar panels.
The students then provided an installation strategy for the committee if the building project was rejected, which would expedite the process to start within the next year.
“Our plan would be to reach out to Sundog Solar to obtain information and see when we could start the process,” said Ren, noting that the next step would be to start the PPE program and find a third–party investor for the beginning of the actual installation.
“The goal is to make the school 100 percent solar… doing this would reduce the carbon footprint of Conners Emerson and allow the school to save money for other things like renovations and equipment.”