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Millvale takes next step in renewable energy initiative | TribLIVE.com
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Millvale takes next step in renewable energy initiative

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Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Millvale Community LIbrary presented Millvale Borough with a grant for $89,000 to complete the installation of solar panels on the community center. The check was presented at the Nov. 7 borough council meeting. Pictured from left: Amy Rockwell, borough manager, James Machajewski, council president, Lisa Seel, library executive director, Sara-Jane Lowry, library board vice president, Marie Christina, NHCO Millvale Outreach manager, Vincent Cinski, Millvale mayor.

Millvale is continuing to show its commitment to alternative energy by completing a solar installation on the community center and inviting local teens to be part of the process.

The Millvale Community Library received a grant for $89,000 from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, which the library gave to the borough to finish installing the community center solar panels, said Millvale sustainability coordinator Zaheen Hussain. The library presented the check to the borough at a Nov. 7 council meeting.

The installation on the center completes one of the first energy goals of the Millvale Ecodistrict Plan, which focused on tackling issues in the areas of food, water and energy, Hussain said.

“This is a big step in the right direction,” said Eddie Figas, borough director of administrative services.

A small solar installation already is on the community center, Hussain said, but this will complete the roof’s solar capacity. While the center’s kitchen equipment draws too much power to run the building on solar power, Hussain said, the eventual plan is to go off grid.

The goal is to provide emergency shelter services in the event of a natural disaster in which the electrical grid goes down. The center already serves as a Red Cross shelter for emergencies and natural disasters.

“The solar installation is the biggest piece of that whole concept,” Hussain said. “As battery technology improves, the next phase of this entire concept is to work on that to give it that capability, to provide shelter and services by unplugging from the grid as needed.”

Thanks to a fellowship offered through the library, 10 Millvale teenagers will be able get hands-on with the solar panel installation next spring and learn more about the renewable energy industry.

“This is creating opportunities for youth to be exposed to the emerging green technology industry, learning about how reusable energy and solar panels work, learning about job opportunities in the solar industry and shadowing installers when the panels go in to get an up-close look at how it all works,” Hussain said.

Teens will attend monthly educational workshops to learn about the different topics, beginning in January and running through April when the panels are to be installed on the community center. The fellowship combines the energy and equity goals of the Ecodistrict Pivot Plan, Hussain said.

An event is planned for Earth Day to celebrate the project’s completion and the teenagers’ hard work.

In addition to a great learning experience, participants will receive a $100 stipend at the end of the fellowship. Interested teens can apply at the library or by emailing Zaheen Hussain at [email protected]. Applications are due by the end of December.

Rachel Farkas is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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