After attending a job shadow at the TyRex Group, Altan, a student at Westwood High School, reached out to Austin Reliability Labs with a project that needed some assistance. Altan was tasked by Westwood’s Academy Specialist Lucy Sanchez and Vice Principal Sal Espinosa to look into a pair of solar panels that are built on school grounds. The purpose of this project was to first find whether or not the solar panels were usable, and if so, assess whether the output energy created by the panels was worth the cost of maintaining the panels. ARL Test Analyst Jon Roesch found out about the request and agreed to take time out of his (VERY busy!) schedule to visit Altan at Westwood’s campus, run tests on the panels and give some expert assistance.
After the assessment, Jon found that the panels were working perfectly and Altan will now assess the output of energy and the discount the school gets from their input into the grid. Beginning in 2001, the State Energy Conservation Office’s Texas Solar for Schools Program supplied many small-scale solar energy systems and complementary educational tools to school districts across the state. The schools saved energy while saving money on their electric bill at the same time, and students learned firsthand about renewable energy and energy conservation. In 2005, Austin Energy installed ten PV systems on schools located in its service territory. Schools submitted applications describing their commitment to solar before they received the systems. The Westwood solar installation, along with several more Austin area schools, were part of Phase IV of the Solar for Schools Program.