MARQUETTE — The Marquette Township Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing for 7 p.m. March 9 at the Marquette Township Hall to discuss a proposed solar energy system at Marquette Alternative High School.
An economics and government class at the school is working to install a 20-kilowatt solar array on the building.
If a special-use permit is obtained, the school will begin to raise funds in the hope of having the array installed by the end of this school year.
“We have been working on this project since last year when my career and college readiness class deep dove into electricity and energy production,” said Brian Prill, who serves as social studies, Spanish and career/college readiness liaison at MAHS, in an email to The Mining Journal.
The school has been working with the Marquette-based Peninsula Solar LLC to develop the project.
“The project is multi-faceted in that students are learning to work with local government, studying the particulars of energy production and consumption, and ultimately reduce the carbon footprint of our building and school district,” Prill said. “When the system is up and running, students will use the data to study whether solar energy is cost efficient.
“If it is found to reduce our building’s electric bills, we will be working with the district to study the issue further and perhaps install solar arrays across the district.”
The Marquette Township Planning Commission on Wednesday heard details about the proposed rooftop solar project, which is located within an urban residential district at 1175 Erie St., before deciding to set the March 9 hearing date.
Erik Powers, staff planner for Marquette Township, said solar energy systems require a special-use permit in areas zoned as urban residential districts.
Powers said Prill will use the project as an educational tool for his students, which Powers said he “found to be significant.”
In a correspondence with the township, Prill said the solar panel array would allow the school to supplement its energy, moving toward sustainability.
“It will also serve an educational purpose where students can analyze the costs versus benefits of solar energy with real-time data that is created and monitored in house,” Prill wrote.
He pointed out that the panels on the school’s roof should not have any foreseeable effect upon emergency services, sanitary sewer facilities or local traffic volume.
“It will have a profound impact upon our school education system as we begin to deeply analyze how energy is produced and what the costs of production are,” Prill wrote. “Students will get real-time data about energy production via the sun throughout the school year.”
Permit OK’d for research facility
The township planning commission also unanimously approved a special-use permit for 906 Engineering Corporation’s proposed scientific research facility in the Cornerstone Business Park.
Russell Tripp, president of the company, located at 161 County Road 492, is the applicant for the project.