Students at Paonia and Delta High Schools who are a part of Solar Energy Internationals High School Technical Training and Careers Pathways Program installed solar systems on their schools earlier this year.

Nine Paonia High School students worked during their class period for a week alongside Empowered Energy Systems LLC, who donated their time to the project, to install a 10kW ground mount solar system. The students learned about every step of the installation process from excavation and pouring concrete to setting the railing and wiring the solar panels. They can leverage the skills gained from this experience to pursue a career, or continuing education, in the solar industry or other technical trades. The system will output approximately 16,000 kWh/year of solar electricity and save the school approximately $1,500/year.

One of the participating students, Junior Harley Ewert, shared the value of his experience,

“Working on solar installation isn’t the typical education you think of having in high school, but it exemplified how important learning first hand can be. It is amazing how quickly a term or item can be remembered when it is tied back to a physical experience rather than a definition on a computer screen.”

At the same time, fourteen students at Delta High School worked with their science teacher Ben Graves to design and install a 5kW pole mount solar system as the first phase of construction in the DHS Solar Lab. This project was both designed and installed by students in Mr. Graves’ Solar Energy Training program, a class he designed through a partnership with SEI.

Solar Energy International organized the donations and installation of the Paonia 10 kW solar system. The Trina Solar solar panels and Sunny Boy inverters for the system were donated in collaboration with the Solar Foundation. While the funds for the rest of the system were local donations from community members, businesses, and utilities including DMEA, Basin Electric. Empowered Energy Systems LLC donated their time to install the ground mount and involve the students in a safe manner, and the AC electrical work was donated by Aubrey Harris from Electrical Service and Repair LLC. Teacher Ben Graves at Delta High School coordinated the funding for the Delta 5kW pole mount system. He was awarded a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Planet Stewards Grant for most of the major capital costs along with a Colorado Education Initiative STEM award. Delta County School District provided a large part of the technical labor and supplies along with technical consultation from Solar Energy International.

This year students learned technical skills during the installation, and over subsequent years students will have the opportunity to collect a variety of data from the system to accompany physics, math, or science curriculum in the schools. Not only will these solar systems be offsetting some energy costs for the schools, but they serve as an educational resource for years to come.

DHS students Sam Moore, Jocy Trevizo and Justin Hanning lay conduit for the Delta High School Solar Array

About Solar Energy International

Solar Energy International (SEI) was founded in 1991 as a nonprofit educational organization with the mission to provide industry-leading technical training and expertise in renewable energy to empower people, communities and businesses worldwide. SEI envisions a world powered by renewable energy.


For more information, contact Beata Ramza at [email protected] or 970-527-7657 x213.