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School looks at solar energy

By CALI BAGBY
Islands Sounder Reporter
May 8, 2013 · Updated 1:30 PM
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Robert Dash stands outside of the school on a sunny spring day looking at rooftops – a surface he thinks would be perfect for solar panels.

“Let’s take advantage of this,” he says.

And that is what the school aims to do with its new Solar Project intended to save energy and inspire students. The plan is to install solar panels on school rooftops to generate electricity. Dash is the project coordinator as well as an OASIS teacher, who specializes in science, English and photography. He also previously worked for a solar installer for three years and has a personal attachment to the subject.

“I have been doing solar research and have been interested for decades,” he said.

But the solar project is still just an idea.

The newly passed OISD bond is funding upgrades to the school buildings, but does not go toward solar projects. School officials expect that it will take two years to complete upgrades specified by the bond, which should give time for the school to work towards making a “greener” environment.

“It [solar energy] is taking shape in other communities in a big way,” Dash said.

Orcas is following in the footsteps of Bainbridge and North Kitsap schools, which have up to 75 kilowatts of solar in a single building. Dash also taught at Kitsap and saw firsthand the success of solar. As far as funding goes, Dash said that the school will pursue every avenue possible from grants to private investments to community fundraising to potential state support.

Dash added that the “rainy and cloudy” Northwest is actually an ideal region for solar panels.

“We have the benefits of summer solar intake and its cooler here so panels do better,” he said.

Dash urges members of the community to contact him at rdash@orcas.k12.wa.us or 317-8682 or the school at www.orcasislandschools.org with any questions about the project.

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