LAPS to get share of $4.5 million in grant money for solar project

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By The Staff

The Los Alamos Public Schools will be one of the districts chosen by Governor Bill Richardson to receive a grant for construction of a solar farm. The photovoltaic array is expected to be built near the middle school on North Mesa.

LAPS Superintendent Gene Schmidt said the district is still awaiting the formal funding letter, but indicated that he expects the grant to be somewhere in the $250,000 to $300,000 range. Gov. Richardson announced the grants last Wednesday, and that the total $4.5 million in funding comes from federal stimulus money.

The 15 school districts were selected through a competitive application process and include: Belen, Carrizozo, Corona, Dulce, Elida, Gallup, Hatch, Los Alamos, Los Lunas, Moriarty, Peñasco, Portales, Rio Rancho, Ruidoso, and Taos. Funds will be used to purchase and install a 50-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system at a school in each of the 15 districts.

Schmidt indicated that construction of the solar farm will not only help reduce the district's utility usage, but will also serve as a teaching and training facility for students to learn more about alternative energy. 

The Public Education Department will manage the projects and the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department will provide technical assistance.