These days everyone is looking for ways to save money and energy. One school district in our area is doing both by tapping into some green power. East Rochester installed a fuel cell last year. It's powering the school and fueling young minds.
"To be able to see something this massive and connect it to the curriculum they are currently using in chemistry is absolutely phenomenal," says 8th grade science teacher Ann Marie VanGelder. She uses the fuel cell to teach students what happens when two elements come together.
"It's an immense opportunity for us to be able, for myself to be able, to show students how what we talk about in textbooks and what we learn about on the internet, actually," says VanGelder.
The fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen. The bye-product is water and electricity.
The district began installing the fuel cell in October of 2006. By February of 2007 it was ready to go. And already it is saving them money. "Right now when we are in session it powers about half of the building. At night and on the weekends it powers just about the whole thing," says Superintendent Howard Maffucci.
He estimates it will save the district $160,000 annually. But perhaps the biggest benefit is one that can't be measured at all. "We're using it as a real life teaching station of alternative energy which is a very timely topic," says Maffucci.
The fuel cell was paid for by an $800,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The district used 1.3 million dollars from it's reserve fund.