Mountain Discovery Charter School students help install 55-gallon barrels at the Green Energy Park on April 20. Photo courtesy of Friends of the Green Energy Park.

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Mountain Discovery Charter School students help install 55-gallon barrels at the Green Energy Park on April 20. Photo courtesy of Friends of the Green Energy Park.

SYLVA — Jackson County’s Green Energy Park got a new passive solar heating system for it’s greenhouses with the help of Swain Mountain Discovery Charter middle schoolers. Forty-two 55-gallon barrels were installed Wednesday, April 20, bringing the heating capacity for the GEP’s greenhouses up to more than 739,000 BTUs for a typical sunny day.

Jim Killebrew, Swain Mountain Discovery middle school science teacher said, “it’s just a matter of using your brain—if you can get free energy from the sun, why not?”

The solar barrels were purchased from M&M Steel Drums in Canton at an investment of $11 each. Timm Muth, the GEP’s director said, “we’ve been planning this for awhile — the more that we use alternative energy such as solar and landfill gas, the more that the GEP can save the county money in these economically restricted times.”

Projected return on investment for the barrel purchase will happen in less than a year’s time with a first year net savings to the county of more than $2,000.

The Jackson County Green Energy Park is an award-winning, community-scale landfill gas project located in Dillsboro, N.C. that uses landfill gas and other renewable energy resources to provide fuel for blacksmith forges and foundry, glassblowing studios, and greenhouses. For more information, visit www.jcgep.org or call (828) 631-0271 for tours or classes.

Kathleen O'Nan

Kathleen O'Nan is a contributing reporter to Carolina Public Press.

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