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New Cedar Falls High School could have solar panels on rooftops, drainage ponds, even car canopies
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New Cedar Falls High School could have solar panels on rooftops, drainage ponds, even car canopies

Artist rendering of solar panels on new Cedar Falls High School

An artist rendering of possible placement of solar panels on the roof of the new Cedar Falls High School were presented at the Cedar Falls Utilities board meeting Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020.

CEDAR FALLS — The new Cedar Falls High School may utilize the latest energy-saving technologies, with help from Cedar Falls Utilities.

Besides installing energy-efficient LED lights and other energy-saving measures, the new building will have a solar photovoltaic system, said Mike Litterer, director of customer service and business development with CFU.

The utility and school district “have worked through a couple of different options,” Litterer said. Roof-mounted panels and ground-mounted solar arrays — including some in water drainage areas — are all on the table, he told the CFU board of trustees at its Wednesday meeting.

“Recently, we just took a look at some car canopy options as well,” he said. “One of the questions on the car canopy is, do they want them in front of the school? There’s some aesthetics on that.”

The drainage area being considered for panels could generate a quarter of a megawatt, though that could be expanded, Litterer said. The main building roof arrays could generate up to 575 kilowatts, while future buildings on the site, such as the pool and field house, could house roof arrays producing 562 kilowatts.

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If solar car canopies were approved by the district, parking lots A and B could generate up to 2.5 megawatts of power, while staff and overflow parking lot canopies could generate 1.25 megawatts.

“It initially sounds like less than 1 megawatt, unless you really get into the parking lots,” said MaraBeth Soneson, the board’s vice chair. Litterer confirmed that was correct.

CFU General Manager Steve Bernard said CFU would install and maintain the panels. In return, energy generated would flow back to CFU’s system.

“That’s the idea, and the school is gracious enough to allow us to use their property,” Bernard said.

Mollie Strouse, CFU marketing manager, noted all design work is still preliminary, and decisions on the size and type of solar installations will come later.

“Adding local solar panels to the Cedar Falls electric system helps increase the amount of renewable energy used in the community,” she said.


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