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Solar Panels Planned at MRH High School

Clayton-based Microgrid Energy will install the system for the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District.

A company will oversee the installation of solar panels at .

"We are every bit as excited as you all are," said Rick Hunter, president of Clayton-based . He said the company wants to help educate students about solar energy as part of its work.

The system will be composed of 40 solar panels each 3 feet-by-5 feet. It will feed into the building's energy distribution system, offsetting energy costs "somewhat," Hunter said.

Superintendent Linda Henke said that the district would like to generate enough energy  to offset power usage in the school's kitchen but that it's unclear at this point whether that will be possible.

Summit Management Group is sponsoring the project and will cover its costs. The system is worth approximately $60,000, but a substantial portion will be covered by government incentives.

 The district approached two other prospective sponsors, said Beth Rowland, the district's director of buildings and grounds.

Board Treasurer Nelson Mitten asked how long the system is expected to last.

The solar panels have a 25-year power production warranty, though it's possible they will last much longer, Hunter said.

"This is a very long-lasting system," Hunter said. It requires low maintenance—a yearly cleaning.

The cost of insurance coverage will be minimal, roughly a couple hundred dollars, Henke said.

Students will be able to view the power production of individual solar panels using  their laptops, Hunter said. Science teachers already are reworking their units to make the solar project a primary focus, Henke said.

"This is primarily a teaching tool with a little extra bonus" of offset energy," she said.

A timeframe for the installation was not immediately available.

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