Blue Jay Solar under construction

jhs solar panels.jpg
New solar panels have been installed on the Jamestown High School campus as seen Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, John M. Steiner / The Sun

Otter Tail Power Co. and Jamestown Public Schools have partnered together to create the Blue Jay Solar project, which includes the installation of a 40 kilowatt solar array on the campus of Jamestown High School.

Robert Lech, superintendent of JPS, said the project is a "win-win-win" and provides benefits for the school district, Otter Tail and the community of Jamestown.

"Otter Tail reached out to us and we saw it as an opportunity," Lech said. "We're always open to any community partnership that enhances educational opportunities for students and this certainly does that. I think it serves the community well, too."

The solar panels are located on the north side of the JHS campus near 13th Street Northeast. Lech said Otter Tail has contracted with Cedar Creek Energy, a solar energy equipment supplier in Coon Rapids, Minnesota.

Lech said once the construction is complete the energy generated by the solar array will be distributed to the entire grid of Jamestown, not just the high school.


"Everybody will be able to share that energy," Lech said. "It's a small array ... but every little bit helps."

Lech said the project has no cost for the school district and will supply students with new educational opportunities both inside and outside the classroom.

"Students will have access to new information like the type of power, how much power is being generated and how it translates to a usable source of power," Lech said. "There are a lot of different opportunities to apply this information to a student's education."

Lech said the project started earlier this year when representatives from Otter Tail approached the school district to start a conversation about the project. Jason Grenier, market planning manager at Otter Tail Power Co., said the idea came about when the power company began looking for a community to partner with for a smaller renewable energy project.

"We wanted to start small and just build a partnership with a community, but we also wanted the benefits of the investment to go directly back to the community," Grenier said. "It was challenging to find a place for the project, but we found a lot of benefits in Jamestown.

"We wanted to bring some educational aspects to the project and that's why we chose Jamestown schools," Grenier said.

Grenier said the project is expected to be completed by the end of the year and will cost an estimated $120,000.

"This is one of those projects where we're trying to investigate solar energy and demonstrate feasibility," Grenier said. "I think we'll learn a lot from this project."

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