MOUNT DESERT ISLAND – 1,400 solar panels cover the roof of MDI High School, making it the first high school in the state to go 100 percent solar.
“You may think that you don’t make any difference, but all together we make a huge impact,” said Thomas Korstanje, a high school senior and intern for A Climate to Thrive.
On Wednesday, the panels were symbolically plugged in by legislators and school officials to much fanfare, especially from some students, who have also worked to reduce their carbon footprint.
“You don’t have to be a huge power mogul or something to make a huge change, you just need to be passionate and willing to try hard,” said Sirohi Kumar, a sophomore and intern for A Climate to Thrive.
A former student did a class project on how a power purchase agreement for solar arrays could work on the high school. With the help of a local activist group, A Climate to Thrive”, that school project is now a reality – one the principal hopes other schools will follow.
“It’s not just something for us to go put a trophy in our case and say ‘look what we did’, it’s ‘this is what we did, this is how we did it, and please let us help'”, said Matt Haney, MDI High School’s principal.
A bipartisan group of state legislators attended Wednesday. Maine’s Speaker of the House Sara Gideon said laws passed recently in Augusta are helping MDI High School get more bang for their buck out of the new panels.
“Energy production should never be political…and I think we see an example here of students recognizing what’s happening, how their world is changing, and what they can do to be a part of it,” said Gideon.
According to Haney, it’s expected to save the school $1.25 million over 25 years.
And yes, once construction is done, they will be using them in the winter, too.
While the last of the solar panels are still being worked on, Haney said they will all be in use very soon.