A climate report card for our schools: Electricity – vtdigger.org
Editor’s Note: Student journalists from more than a dozen schools across Vermont contributed to the Climate Report Card series, reporting on their schools’ systems for heat, electricity, transportation, food, and climate education. Each article in the series collects a handful of accounts from participating schools; together these stories show that our school communities are working hard to be more energy efficient, and that we face complex trade-offs in seeking to reduce our carbon footprint. At the close of the series teams of students will offer their conclusions, including any recommendations for their schools. The project does not claim to be a complete or authoritative evaluation: its core purpose is the students’ civic engagement.
The Underground Workshop’s Climate Report Card series was compiled, organized and edited by a team of student editors: Anika Turcotte, Montpelier High School; Adelle Macdowell, Lamoille High School; Anna Hoppe, Essex High School; Mei Elander, Enosburg Falls High School; and Cecilia Luce, Thetford High School
One community in focus: Essex High School
Enosburg Falls High School
Champlain Valley Union High School, Hinesburg
Lake Region High School, Barton
Burr and Burton Academy, Manchester
by Anna Hoppe, Essex High School
Vermont is known as a “green” state, but some of the statistics about our electricity production and usage require a deeper look.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “In 2020, Vermont generated about 100% of its electricity from renewable resources, a larger share than in any other state. About 58% of Vermont’s utility-scale in-state generation came from conventional hydroelectric power.”
However, Vermont currently consumes over three times as much energy as it produces. Because of this, only about 32% of the state’s energy consumption comes from renewable sources.
Schools around Vermont are looking to increase that number by using renewable energy such as solar and hydro to help power their buildings.
These investments can be expensive, so schools often enter into arrangements called net metering agreements, or power purchasing agreements, with private companies. This allows the school to avoid a high upfront cost, but it means that schools will not always get all of the benefits from the project.
In addition to bringing schools into the future with renewable energy, many schools have to work to bring their buildings to the present. Older buildings are not built with the energy efficiency strategies that are relatively standard today, such as LED bulbs and timers and daylight sensors for lights.
Solar panels atop Essex High School. Photo by Anna Hoppe
One Community in Focus: Essex Westford School District
by Anna Hoppe, Essex High School
On February 1, 2022, the Essex High School Environmental Club gathered in a science classroom before school to talk about solar panels. The club and the Essex Rotary Club’s environmental committee had both independently decided to focus on new municipal solar installations, so they decided to meet through Zoom to discuss collaborating. The goal was for the Rotary Club to support the students’ work of getting more solar panels for Essex High School. This meeting was the culmination of student advocacy, and the project would build …….