Science teacher installs solar panels

by Laura Monico, social media editor

Mr. Phil Young, ninth grade Environmental Science teacher, recently installed 15 solar panels in his yard to generate some of his electric. Mr. Young invested in his panels to not only save money, but also preserve the environment. His career as a science teacher has encouraged him to make environmentally friendly changes in his day to day life. “It was probably my work with my STEM class that inspired this path that I’ve taken over the past couple of years to get to where I am at,” Mr. Young said.  

After a three day installation period, the panels (which were purchased from Solar Revolution in Erie) were up and running on May 1. Since the first day, the panels have created 450 kilowatt hours of electricity. The proficiency of the panels on any given day depends on the amount of sunlight they receive. Each day the solar panels convert energy from the sun to an average of 25 kilowatt hours of electricity. Mr. Young’s family uses about 40 kilowatt hours of electricity each day. Currently, his solar array will generate around 40 percent of his total electricity.

Although the panels were a large investment, in a few years, Mr. Young will be solely gathering free energy, and he will not have any electrical bills. “I will save money monthly from here on out; however, it will take nine to ten years before I have actually saved money on the overall cost. In five years, I won’t have a payment on the system or an electric bill,” Mr. Young said.  

Not only will Mr. Young be saving money, but he will also be saving the environment. He previously received his electricity through Penelec, which generates 60 percent of its electricity using coal. “Once my system is completely installed, right now I’ve only partially installed, I will no longer require coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear, or hydroelectric power, which all have considerable negative impacts on the environment,” Mr. Young said.

He will be able to cut out all other sources of energy because in Pennsylvania there is legislation in place that allows you to hook personally owned solar panels to the electrical grid, and the state credits you a kilowatt hour for every kilowatt hour the panels generate. “You do not need backup,” Mr. Young said. “You have basically become an electrical generator.”

Mr. Young plans to purchase an additional 20 panels within the next year to create even more energy. He wishes more people would take advantage of solar panels. “It would be nice to see more people taking advantage of the free energy streaming down from the sun,” Mr. Young said.

As a science teacher Mr. Young felt an obligation to make this environmentally friendly change. “I already teach alternative energy in the ninth grade curriculum, but now instead of just talking, I can say I am living it. I’m walking the walk as well as talking the talk.”

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