In this economy, most people are looking for ways to save money. In Howard County, they say that’s garbage. The Maryland Energy Administration has given Howard County a grant to install nearly 2,000 solar panels on top of the closed landfill, through a partnership with the solar company SunEdison. The county will use the panels to power Worthington Elementary School, which sits next door to the landfill.
"It had been sitting as an open field for all those years," says Mark Deluca, the county's Deputy Director of Public Works, who has spent a lot of time at the New Cut landfill, helping install solar panels. "In a partnership with the Northeast Maryland Waste Authority, we worked on an idea to repurpose landfills to make them generate more power."
Deluca says the panels will generate approximately 90 percent of the power for the school, which will mean big savings for the school and for the county.
Worthington teacher Katherine Vandenberge says there’s also another benefit: "There’s so many ways we can tie this into the curriculum."
For example, she says students can use the school's utility bills to calculate energy costs. They can study the effect of changing weather patterns on solar power. And they can research the differences between renewable energy and fossil fuels
"I hope there is a child who’s inspired to create the next great innovation that our country needs," says Howard County executive Ken Ulman, who hopes yesterday’s trash will shape the future for students.
Worthington Elementary is scheduled to start drawing power from the solar panels later this month.