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Solar companies generate funds for Dateland School
Dateland Elementary School was recently awarded a check for $20,000, a portion of which will be used to complete a picnic area on the campus.
The funds were presented by NRG Energy Inc. and MidAmerican Renewables, LLC., joint owners of the Agua Caliente Solar Generation Station in Yuma County. Agua Caliente, once completed in 2014, will be recognized as the world's largest photovoltaic solar power station supplying clean energy to thousands of homes, stated NRG.
Bob Sloncen with Dateland School said that because the campus also doubles as a community center for town events and family gatherings, it was the perfect place for the two companies to give funds to as they were looking to support the community as a whole with the donation.
“The school is the center of the community,” said Sloncen. “This is where we have quinceañeras, this is where we have weddings, this is where we have funerals, this is where we have athletic events ... everything is centered around the school.”
He said the picnic area will be a great addition to the campus, which currently serves about 110 preschool through eighth-grade students.
“We have our big Fourth of July celebration here and this is where people from our area — there are no parks out here — bring their family and barbecue over the weekend or use the basketball court or the softball or soccer fields. We wanted to construct a nice picnic area where that could be used by the families in the community.”
Thanks to solar panels put in by the state of Arizona as well as Arizona Public Service, some of the structures will be used as shade in their picnic area. Sloncen added that the Fort Yuma Rotary Club built a concession stand and a sand volleyball court among other things on campus to be used by the community.
“We've just received a tremendous amount of support from different entities of Yuma County, and it's really made our school special.”
Also, with the Agua Caliente plant nearby, he said it created jobs for people in the area during construction.
When First Solar became involved in the project, said Sloncen, they were big supporters of Dateland School, and now that NRG and MidAmerican have purchased the power from them, they wanted to continue to support the campus.
“We're very appreciative (of the donation), because schools don't receive adequate financial support from the state of Arizona, we haven't been able to give our teachers a raise in eight or nine years,” he said.
Sarah Womer can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.