Stafford Tech Students install solar panels for CVPS

by Casey Hurlburt
Central Vermont Public Service unveiled its 264 solar panel project and renewable energy education center this past June.
Under the supervision of CVPS, Central Vermont Solar and Wind, and ReKnew Energy Systems, students from Stafford Technical Center helped with landscaping and forestry, building design and construction, and helped to install and wire the solar and electrical components.
“I think the students really got active in the process starting in late 2008. Marty Bowen and I met with the architecture class in March 2009 to review some of the designs they’d done for the control building and site layout. The project took about two years,” said Tim Upton, manager of environmental affairs at CVPS.
The 264 solar panels create 50 kilowatts of electricity and provide energy to about 50 homes. The solar project and education center is located in Rutland off of Route 7.
“Students come from about eight different high schools in our region that we serve. They apply and come to Stafford to be in a particular program area,” said Peg Bolgioni, outreach coordinator at Stafford Tech. When students are placed with CVPS, they go through an interview process with the human resources department, a hiring manager, and an employee from the department in which they would be working.
If selected, they begin a year-long internship in which they invest 16 to 24 hours, two to three days each week, while still completing class work at Stafford Tech. Often these experiences lead to a career either at the institution they interned at, or in the field of which they were interning, all the while earning high school credits.
John Fairbanks and Brandon Barrett, seniors and second-year students in Stafford’s Electrical/Plumbing program, both played a role in the CVPS solar project. They worked on the project during the school year until its completion in June.
“Our responsibilities were to help the CV solar guys get materials and we had to work together to put up the solar panels and bolt them together. We had to run all the wire back to the shed to the where the Sunny Tower was for each solar panel,” said John.
Brandon worked mostly on Sunny Tower, “The equipment was really heavy so we all had to communicate and get along and it was generally a great environment to work in. We pulled the wires from the panels and pulled them back to the shed. We hooked them into the Sunny Tower. The Sunny Tower tells us how much energy we produce each and every day.”
The students had an opportunity to learn hands on in a field of their interest with professionals, “I enjoyed it all; I enjoyed working with all the guys and everybody got along great. It seems like a good environment to work in,” said John.
John wants to be an electrical linesman or become a master electrician himself, “and maybe work for CV or CVPS or CV Solar doing this kind of work,” he said. Brandon also wants to pursue electrical work in the future.
“I think I can speak for everyone here when I say our experience with the students was entirely positive and inspiring. We were impressed with their energy, their level of engagement, their skills, and the quality of their work,” said Upton.