FSEC Honored with Innovation Award for SunSmart Schools Program

The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) has been honored by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) with one of their 2005 Innovation Awards. The award was presented to the center for serving as project lead on “Florida’s SunSmart Schools Program,” a partnership with the Department of Environmental Protection/Florida Energy Office (DEP), the state’s electric utilities and the solar industry.

FSEC administered the activities that installed solar electric systems in several educational institutes in Florida, including K-12 public and private schools, vocational institutes and universities.

This pilot program was funded from Florida DEP with $600,000 used to subsidize the installation of 29 systems throughout the state. Many of the schools teamed up with their local electric utility or organizations within the local community to raise the additional funds for their systems. Sponsoring utilities included Progress Energy, Gulf Power, Tampa Electric, Florida Power and Light, JEA, City of Tallahassee, Utilities Commission of New Smyrna Beach and Gainesville Regional Utilities.

FSEC also provided students and teachers with an educational activity kit, web-based learning activities and lesson plans that correlate with state science and mathematics educational standards. FSEC’s education staff coordinated regional teacher training workshops throughout the state to provide support to educators utilizing the kit materials and website as part of their teaching curriculum.

As a result, thousands of Florida students and teachers are learning about solar energy’s role in meeting some of the state’s electricity demand, promoting local economic development and helping provide a clean environment and energy security for the future.

A few of the PV sites also serve as storm shelters. These sites have been equipped with interpretive signage to increase awareness of the benefits and uses of solar energy. Solar power can take on vital importance if normal electricity service becomes unavailable. In the event of a local emergency, the system will generate electricity produced by the solar system which is diverted to the school to operate lighting and other necessities. During normal conditions, the renewable energy produced by the PV system is distributed to the company’s grid.

For more information, contact Jennifer Szaro at 321-638-1427 or jszaro@fsec.ucf.edu.

The Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported energy research center in the country. Current research activities include solar water and pool heating, solar electric and distributed generation systems, energy-efficient buildings, alternative transportation systems, hydrogen fuel, fuel cells and other energy areas. For more information about the center, visit www.fsec.ucf.edu or call the FSEC Public Affairs Office at (321) 638-1015.