Solar learning labs are coming to the campuses of both Franklin Pierce School District and Jason Lee Middle School, thanks to the 2019 Evergreen Options Renewable Energy Project Grant. The labs will reduce energy costs and teach students the importance of renewable energy.

“It’s hard to know who’s more excited — school staff or students,” said Kathleen Hall, the Jason Lee Middle School science teacher who applied for the Evergreen Options grant.

The middle school will install a 99.9-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array with data monitoring system, an idea that started with three eighth grade students. It will be the second largest solar array in Tacoma.

The Franklin Pierce School District will use its $50,000 grant to construct a 21-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array at the district’s farm to act as a solar learning lab for students. Energy collected at the project will power the farm’s walk-in cooler where fresh produce is stored.

“A solar learning lab at the farm at Franklin Pierce will expand learning opportunities about food production to include energy production and consumption,” said Joel Zylstra, a Franklin Pierce Schools spokesperson. “Students will get a glimpse of how their personal decisions around food and energy will impact our world.”

Tacoma Power started the Evergreen Options Renewable Grant program in the fall of 2017. The annual program helps recipients generate a portion of their own electricity from renewable sources. Funding comes from Tacoma Power customers who participate in the Evergreen Options program.