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Solar panels find place on BOLD campus

The 5-kilowatt solar array is located north of the football field on the BOLD campus in Olivia. Submitted 1 / 2
Superintendent John Dotson of the BOLD Schools said a grant from the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency made possible the installation of solar panels on the north end of the football field in Olivia at the start of the school year. They are being used as an instructional tool by the school, which also enjoys the benefits of the electricity they produce. Tom Cherveny / Tribune 2 / 2

OLIVIA — Someday, solar panels might be as common a sight on school grounds as the flagpole topped by Old Glory.

That someday arrived at the BOLD School campus in Olivia at the start of the school year.

A grant from the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency made it possible for the school to erect a 5-kilowatt solar panel installation at the north end of the high school football field, according to Superintendent of Schools John Dotson.

The electricity produced by the panels is fed directly into the school's power system. It won't make a big dent in the school's electric bill. A 5-kW array — which produces 5,000 watts — is the size usually recommended for a single residential system.

The solar panels' bigger value are their use as a learning tool by students, and to build "solar awareness.'' They can help help students learn about the benefits and characteristics of solar power, the superintendent explained.

Every student in grades K-12 has an app on their iPads allowing them to monitor the solar panels, and see their real-time production of electricity. There is also a kiosk by the main office allowing anyone to monitor the panels.

Dotson said the panels have attracted notice. Students and visitors alike are curious and ask about them, he said.

The city of Olivia's Municipal Utility, which serves the campus, is a member of the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency. The agency awarded Hometown Solar grants to schools in the member communities of Arlington, Brownton and Winthrop along with Olivia to install panels this year. The agency's goal is to erect similar panels in coming years in all 12 member communities.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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