Spotlighting the Recovery Act – solar schools in the Sunshine State

This blog was written by Jennifer Rennicks, former Senior Director of Policy & Communications at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | November 1, 2010 | Energy Policy

Almost two years ago, Congressional leaders and the Obama Administration championed an unprecedented commitment of Recovery Act funds to support clean energy technologies. Like all of the Recovery Act funds, the $80 billion targeted for energy projects helped to create new jobs and save existing ones while spurring economic activity and long-term growth.  And unlike funds that built a road which will, eventually, require new funds for repairs, some of the funds for the 5,000 energy related Recovery projects will continue to pay dividends well into the future.

One such project in Florida is helping schools to harness solar energy in the Sunshine State.  The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) was awarded $10 million in Recovery funds to support SunSmart Schools, a program that has provided 1 or 2 kilowatt (kW) demonstration systems to school since 2004.  New funds from the Recovery Act are establishing the new SunSmart Schools Emergency Shelter Program, to provide 10 kW photovoltaic (solar electric) systems like the one pictured here to charge back-up batteries for at least 90 schools that serve as emergency hurricane shelters.

All Floridians benefit from the nearly $11 billion in Recovery Act funds that created or saved more than 61,000 jobs in state, and residents near those 90 schools will particularly benefit when electric power systems fail during future hurricanes as these shelters will provide safe, well-lit spaces for evacuees.  These and other energy-related projects would not be possible without the leadership of a nearly dozen Congressional members from Florida who supported the Recovery Act in February 2009. East River High School in Orlando, Florida can direct its thanks to Congressman Alan Grayson for supporting the Recovery Act and those who attend Apollo Elementary in Titusville, Florida can thank Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas for her leadership.  Without clean energy champions in Congress and our state assemblies, it is hard to see how we will enact future clean energy policies that benefit our economy and our environment at the same time.

If you are interested in learning more about the energy efficiency and renewable energy programs around the country that are being supported through the Recovery Act, visit the Energy Empowers website for first-hand stories. The main Recovery Act website has interactive maps that track all the funds for all purposes around the country.  You can search by state and even zip code to learn more about project recipients in your area.

Earlier this year, SACE highlighted an energy efficiency project in GA made possible through Recovery Act funds. SACE’s Footprints Blog will highlight other energy-related Recovery Act projects in the months to come – so check back again soon.

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