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Solar Panels Create a Buzz at One Jersey School

Solar panels will cut costs and protect the environment

A large solar panel installation on the grounds of a New Jersey school will share space with as many as one million bees in a sustainability initiative that mixes the latest technology with old-fashioned agriculture.

"We considered grazing goats and sheep but our partner, KDC Solar balked a little at that considering they didn't want sheep munching on wires," said Sam Kosoff, Director of Sustainability at The Lawrenceville School in Lawrence Township.

Instead, the school got about 30 acres of land and 29,394 solar panels with wildflowers planted beneath and around the installation as well as 16 hives for bees that will produce honey and pollinate nearby farmland.

'"Going green" will save the school another kind of green: money.

KDC Solar project manager Jason Mansilla says his company will guarantee a rate of less than eight cents per kilowatt hour for the next 20 years, nearly  half of what the school now pays to PSE&G.

That comes out to a savings of about $400,000 a year.

For students at the 200-year-old prep boarding school that counts conservationist Aldo Leopold, author of "A Sand County Almanac," among its alumni, it's about something bigger than monetary savings.

"I care about the earth and I don't want to see it destroyed by carbon pollution," said Kearney McDonnell, an 18-year-old senior from Pennsylvania.

Charlie Gallagher, an 18-year-old student from West Palm Beach, Fla., noted that 90 percent of the school's electricity will come from the panels.

"We're really setting an example for other schools to follow our lead and hopefully the world will catch on at some point," Gallagher said.

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY

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