On Wednesday morning, Missoula County Public Schools Superintendent Mark Thane, the City of Missoula and NorthWestern Energy will present a collaborative community solar pilot project to the city council. MCPS Communications Director Hatton Littman says this project is being developed in an effort to educate the community about the potential of solar energy.

“We are so excited,” Littman said. “We have been working for two years on a process to bring really amazing cutting-edge solar installations to four of our schools in Missoula. They are not owned by MCPS. These are NorthWestern Energy projects that are going to be on our campuses at Sentinel, Big Sky, Hellgate, and the Willard alternative learning program.”

Littman says there will be four very different types of installations.

“At Big Sky, we have a solar covered walkway,” Littman said. “At Sentinel, we have three different solar roofs to a small outdoor learning space. A Hellgate, we will have a bit of a solar covered car port right up against Higgins. As you’re driving downtown, you will be able to see that right on their campus. A really neat one will be the solar fence at Willard.”

Teachers have already written curriculum that will help students learn directly from the solar data. Construction surrounding these four projects will likely begin in the next few weeks, but Littman says they are already looking at expanding solar use down the road.

“Energy storage will be added to the Big Sky project,” Littman said. “One of the things we hope to be able to do in the future is a demonstration of how much energy we can store and how much energy we can use. Wouldn’t it be neat if we could host a night time athletic event powered by our solar panel outside?”

According to Littman, NorthWestern Energy has committed $1 million to fund these initial projects. You can look at all the different projects right here.

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