Solar Power Systems Educate Students, Reduce Costs for Schools and Provide Emergency Power

COCOA, July 14, 2011 – Nearly 100 Florida schools will be soaking up solar rays to power their buildings this fall thanks to the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC).

FSEC, a University of Central Florida research institute, is providing each school with a 10-kilowatt, solar photovoltaic (PV) system valued at more than $80,000. These systems allow schools to capture the sun’s rays and turn them into energy to help reduce electricity costs, and they also serve as generators during a power outage. Installation of the systems – under way now – will reduce energy costs by up to $1,500 a year and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.


The photovoltaic system at Oak Hammock Middle School in Ft. Myers is near completion.
The photovoltaic system at Oak Hammock Middle School in Ft. Myers is near completion.

Each ground-mounted, 1000-square-foot PV system is capable of providing enough power to run a small appliance like a fridge, overhead lighting or series of electrical outlets.

Schools are getting the systems through the SunSmart Schools E-Shelter program, which was created with a $10 million stimulus grant. A leader in solar energy research, FSEC is coordinating the program and providing educational materials for teachers to use with students, as well as training for school faculty and staff.

“Having these photovoltaic systems in plain view on the school campuses is that first step in raising awareness about this important renewable energy technology,” said Susan Schleith, FSEC project manager for the SunSmart program. “And when a student, parent or teacher asks, ‘What is that and what does it do?,’ that’s when the learning begins.”

Schools receiving the systems are from around the state and include elementary, middle and high schools as well as one college. They were selected to take part in the program based on their status as an emergency shelter, demographics, and their renewable energy education and outreach plans.

Each PV system is connected to the utility electric grid, supplements the school’s electricity during normal operations and keeps a bank of back-up batteries charged. In the event the school is being used as a shelter and there’s an electrical outage, the system powers critical items in the shelter, using the back-up batteries when the sun isn’t shining.

For classroom learning, the system also functions as a learning resource, allowing students and teachers to see how much energy their system is producing, study the relationship between the environment and the PV system and explore the basics of electricity.

At the Academy of Natural Resources at Island Coast High School in Cape Coral, Fla., students take classes in subjects such as environmental science, solar energy and aquaculture. Science teacher Cherie Sukovich says the system will increase students’ understanding of how weather and other environmental factors play a role in capturing the sun’s rays.

“It gives us a very concrete, real-world way to show them an abstract concept,” she said.

Vergona-Bowersox Electric Inc., of Boca Raton, is installing the solar systems at the schools and will finish by 2012.

Following is the list of participating schools. For more information about the program, visit

School City County
DeSoto Middle Arcadia DeSoto
Avon Elementary Avon Park Highlands
Baker School Baker Okaloosa
Boynton Beach Community High Boynton Beach Palm Beach
W. R. Tolar K-8 Bristol Liberty
Hernando High Brooksville Hernando
Island Coast High Cape Coral Lee
Chipley High Chipley Washington
McMullen-Booth Elementary Clearwater Pinellas
Brevard Community College Cocoa Brevard
Endeavour Elementary Magnet Cocoa Brevard
Crawfordville Elementary Crawfordville Wakulla
Riversink Elementary Crawfordville Wakulla
Antioch Elementary Crestview Okaloosa
Champion Elementary Daytona Beach Volusia
Atlantic Community High Delray Beach Palm Beach
Heritage Middle Deltona Volusia
Pine Ridge High Deltona Volusia
Ronald W. Reagan-Doral Senior High Doral Miami-Dade
Dunnellon High Dunnellon Marion
Oak Hammock Middle Fort Myers Lee
Freeport High Freeport Walton
Fruitland Park Elementary Fruitland Park Lake
C.A. Moore Elementary Ft. Pierce St. Lucie
Geneva Elementary Geneva Seminole
Haines City Senior High Haines City Polk
East Gadsden High Havana Gadsden
Havana Middle Havana Gadsden
Hialeah Gardens Senior High Hialeah Gardens Miami-Dade
South Dade Senior High Homestead Miami-Dade
Eden Park Elementary Immokalee Collier
Pinecrest Elementary Immokalee Collier
Warfield Elementary Indiantown Martin
Abess Park Elementary Jacksonville Duval
Arlington Middle Jacksonville Duval
Chets Creek Elementary Jacksonville Duval
LaVilla School of the Arts Jacksonville Duval
Key West High Key West Monroe
Discovery Intermediate Kissimmee Osceola
Ventura Elementary Kissimmee Osceola
Dr. NE Roberts Elementary Lakeland Polk
Carver Middle Leesburg Lake
Leesburg Elementary Leesburg Lake
Lyman High Longwood Seminole
A. Crawford Mosley High Lynn Haven Bay
Madison County Central Madison Madison
Lafayette High Mayo Lafayette
Robert Morgan Education Center Miami Miami-Dade
South Miami Senior Miami Miami-Dade
Avalon Middle Milton Santa Rosa
Bennett C. Russell Elementary Milton Santa Rosa
Everglades High Miramar Broward
Jefferson County Middle High Monticello Jefferson
River Ridge Middle High New Port Richey Pasco
Atwater Elementary North Port Sarasota
Hammett Bowen Jr. Elementary Ocala Marion
Vanguard High Ocala Marion
East River High Orlando Orange
Memorial Middle Orlando Orange
Pine View Osprey Sarasota
Palm Beach Gardens Community High Palm Beach Gardens Palm Beach
Cedar Grove Elementary Panama City Bay
Jinks Middle Panama City Bay
Longleaf Elementary Pensacola Escambia
R. C. Lipscomb Elementary Pensacola Escambia
Taylor County Elementary Perry Taylor
T. Dewitt High Pierson Volusia
Knights Elementary Plant City Hillsborough
Palmetto Elementary Poinciana Polk
Poinciana Elementary Poinciana Osceola
Kingsway Elementary Port Charlotte Charlotte
Bayshore Elementary Port St. Lucie St. Lucie
John M. Sexton Elementary Saint Petersburg Pinellas
Sebastian River High Sebastian Indian River
Explorer K-8 Spring Hill Hernando
St. Cloud Elementary St. Cloud Osceola
Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr. Elementary St. Petersburg Pinellas
Fairmount Park Elementary St. Petersburg Pinellas
Port Salerno Elementary Stuart Martin
Deerlake Middle Tallahassee Leon
Apollo Elementary Titusville Brevard
Trenton Elementary Trenton Gilchrist
Vernon High Vernon Washington
Oslo Middle Vero Beach Indian River
Wiregrass Ranch High Wesley Chapel Pasco
West Gate Elementary West Palm Beach Palm Beach
Yulee High Yulee Nassau
Yulee Middle Yulee Nassau

About FSEC

The Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported energy research institute in the nation. Current divisions and their research activities include Advanced Energy Research: alternative transportation systems, hydrogen fuel and fuel cells; Buildings Research: energy-efficient buildings; and Solar Energy: solar water and pool heating and solar electric and distributed generation systems. For more information about the center, visit or call the FSEC Public Affairs Office at 321-638-1015.

UCF Stands For Opportunity
The University of Central Florida is a metropolitan research university that ranks as the 2nd largest in the nation with more than 56,000 students. UCF’s first classes were offered in 1968. The university offers impressive academic and research environments that power the region’s economic development. UCF’s culture of opportunity is driven by our diversity, Orlando environment, history of entrepreneurship and our youth, relevance and energy. For more information visit



7 thoughts on “Solar Power Systems Educate Students, Reduce Costs for Schools and Provide Emergency Power

  • October 10, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Excellent program! Please let us know how our company can participate and support your efforts.
    Carlos M Gonzalez
    BlueChip Energy, LLC

  • September 13, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    I noticed the PV system that has been installed at my old high shcool (Lyman HS , Longwood). I watched the system being installed and wondered what the deal was and now I know because I found the info on your website. BUT and I say that LOUDER, BUT why is there no signage to tell the public about the program. Why has the media NOT been involved. I know that Channel 13 here in the Orlando area would have run a story. I know others would be as interested to know more about it and how it works out.

    I just attended the Solar International Convention, in Orlando and the keynote speaker( Pres. Clinton) made the statement that it is up to the Solar industry to promote themselves and be in front of the public and our politicians. It seems to me that you are missing a great opportunity to showcase Solar with this program.

    The Solar industry missed the media coverage, by not having coverage about this major convention being in town and that Pres Clinton was the keynote speaker.

    Great job in getting this program in place. It is a shame that the organizations involved are not getting the recognition.

    Keep up the great work.

  • September 28, 2012 at 11:23 am

    My company installs and maintains all types of solar energy in the North Florida area. How can we get information on being considered as an approved contractor for this program?

    Jacksonville, FL

  • November 9, 2012 at 3:58 am

    The information you have provided on the basics of solar power systems is very informative. The use of solar energy is very beneficial for our environment as well as it is very cost effective. Thanks.

  • December 1, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Excellent information! Solar system is the best option for creating a clean and renewable electrical power. It normally focuses on the development and manufacturing of products that address global environmental problems.

  • June 20, 2023 at 9:20 am

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the SunSmart E-Shelter installations! It’s great to see how solar energy is being integrated into public infrastructure, providing both shelter and renewable energy for communities. Your point about the potential for these installations to serve as a model for other cities and regions to follow is well taken, as it highlights the importance of collaboration and sharing best practices in advancing sustainable infrastructure. Your emphasis on the economic benefits of renewable energy, including job creation and cost savings, is also important to consider, as it highlights the potential for renewable energy to drive economic growth and provide tangible benefits to individuals and communities. Overall, this is a well-written and informative post that highlights the potential of solar energy to be integrated into public infrastructure and the benefits of renewable energy for communities.
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