The beginning stages of solar panel installation at Sanibel Sea School's Flagship Campus.

The beginning stages of solar panel installation at Sanibel Sea School's Flagship Campus.

We're excited to share the news that Sanibel Sea School is in the final stages of a project to install solar panels at our Flagship Campus on Periwinkle Way – the very first commercial installation of a photovoltaic solar array on Sanibel! 

The idea to install a solar array at Sanibel Sea School has been part of Doc Bruce and Miss Evelyn's environmentally-conscious plan from the beginning, but finally became a reality when a Sea School parent, Rudy Wodrich, offered his support in 2014. 

Wodrich, who has lived on Sanibel with his family for more than five years, has three children who have all attended Sanibel Sea School and works for Solar Utility Partners of Estero. After discussing his passion for alternative energy with Doc Bruce, he became enthusiastic about the idea of overseeing a solar panel installation for us, and brought his colleague, Dell Jones, on board as well. 

To make the project more affordable, Wodrich and Jones approached a number of suppliers to provide materials and labor at a discounted rate. Their company, Solar Utility Partners of Estero, acted as the primary contractor, providing engineering, procurement, and construction services. 

“I want to thank all the sub suppliers who donated or deeply discounted equipment and services to allow us to complete this project in the most economical way possible for such a worthwhile organization," says Wodrich, "Canadian Solar was particularly helpful with the solar panels. In conjunction with some energy efficiency changes inside the building, this solar installation will bring the Sea School to a “net zero” condition, whereby they use no more energy than they generate from the solar panels annually.”

“It’s fantastic to talk about marine conservation, but we must also act,” says Doc Bruce, “There’s a very direct link between electricity consumption and ocean health, so it’s exciting that Sanibel Sea School is leading the way to build a more environmentally friendly version of Sanibel by installing this system. Others businesses will follow very soon, including Bailey’s, which is great news.”

There’s a very direct link between electricity consumption and ocean health, so it’s exciting that Sanibel Sea School is leading the way to build a more environmentally friendly version of Sanibel.
— Dr. Bruce Neill

He adds that Sanibel Sea School’s solar project was initially funded by a grant from the Bill Healy Foundation, but the cost exceeded initial estimates, so we are still seeking funding for the remaining amount. The project is predicted to pay for itself in reduced electricity bills within 6 years, ultimately channeling more funds toward achieving our mission – to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time. 

Soon, we will also create an exhibit to educate visitors about solar power and its potential in Florida, and we will install solar charging stations for electric vehicles. We hope you'll stop by to view the exhibit and enjoy a cup of coffee brewed using energy from the sun!

In addition to Solar Utility Partners of Estero, we would like to thank the following companies that donated or provided supplies and/or labor at a discounted rate: Canadian Solar, Shoals Technology, Fortune Energy, US Solar, Norman J. Scheel, Advance Solar, Sanibel Air and Electric, LCEC, Dan Hahn Custom Builders, Soon Come Landscaping, and The Plank-DiCarlo Family Foundation, whose generosity helped to secure a mortgage for Sanibel Sea School’s building.

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