With the last bit of sun shining on them, representatives from Fall River Electric and Teton High School cut the ceremonial ribbon and celebrated the successful installation of a new solar array and wind turbine behind THS on Oct. 6.
The joint solar/wind project is designed to allow THS students to have first-hand experience while learning about renewable energy.
Ted Austin, marketing and public relations manager at Fall River, spoke to the benefits of the project for students.
“There is so much change in the electrical industry right now and solar and wind play a big part of that and we wanted students to have a better understanding and first-hand knowledge of how these systems work,” said Austin.
THS is joined by North Fremont High School and West Yellowstone High School, who also worked with Fall River on identical projects.
“The purpose in doing this is obviously for the education of the students,” said Austin. “That’s the most important thing.”
TSD 401 Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme echoed these sentiments.
“I’m grateful that we can have that relationship and the benefits for the students,” said Woolstenhulme. “This is great, and just opens our students’ eyes to other opportunities that they have.”
The project was completed without any cost to any of the schools involved.
Funding was acquired through Fall River, Fall River’s Helping Hands program, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, and donations from individual Fall River Co-op members and families.
“We were able to successfully raise the money for all three schools, it doesn’t cost the school district, the high school, or the students any expense,” said Austin.
The next step in the initiative is faculty training, which is scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2022. The Bonneville Environmental Foundation will handle this phase of the project.
The installation was also an educational experience for the linemen and crews from Fall River, who completed the construction of the renewable energy project. Fall River ran into difficulties with other firms that were intended to complete the project.
“At Fall River, we don’t accept that kind of situation so we said well, we’ll do it ourselves,” said Austin. “It was a team effort to try to figure it out since we never built these before, and actually get the job done. We’re very happy with the end result and the units work as was planned.”
Austin recognized Fall River engineers AJ Balls, Nick Watson, and engineering manager Dave Peterson in the completion of the project.
Georg Behrens, a valley resident and member of Fall River’s Board of Directors, emphasized how the project falls in line with Fall River’s core principles.
“As a co-op, we believe in seven core principles,” said Behrens. “The fifth principle, one that is particularly important, is education. We love to educate the youth, and this is a superb example of why we put this into action.”
Behrens also touched on Fall River’s commitment to community, and how this project exemplifies that dedication.
“What better can we do than make a public community action for the children?” said Behrens. “We just hope that you, high school kids and teachers, will benefit from that and gain as much knowledge as possible.”