Stafford County Students Study Solar Technology as Solar Installation Begins Overhead

Posted Feb 27, 2024

Installation has begun on Stafford County Public Schools' (SCPS) first solar site! North Stafford High School's 1.77 MW solar array is expected to be the largest rooftop array in Virginia, with over 3,300 solar panels. The array is expected to start powering the school by late summer.

As solar activity has ramped up on the roof, the excitement has extended into the classroom; SCPS engaged over 150 students in two solar-focused activities last week.

“Our mission is to inspire and empower our students so that they are prepared to excel, and this project certainly sets them up to be global changemakers,” said Superintendent Dr. Thomas W. Taylor. "I am delighted that the installation has aligned perfectly with Career and Technical Education Month, allowing us to showcase diverse, in-demand careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as well as clean energy."

CTE solar career panel
Meghan Milo (Sun Tribe Solar) and Joshua Schimpf (SCPS Energy Manager) speak to middle school students about careers in energy during CTE Month.

On Tuesday, Joshua Schimpf from SCPS and Meghan Milo from Sun Tribe Solar spoke to students about energy careers as part of the Pathways to Success course at AG Wright Middle School. Mr. Schimpf, a graduate of SCPS, explained his path to becoming a licensed electrician and shared his passion for knowing a trade. Launching from his electrical background, he later became Energy and Stormwater Manager. Now, through his leadership, his alma mater will be powered with clean, renewable energy for decades – and long after the middle schoolers in the audience graduate.

Joshua Schimpf, SCPS’ Energy Management and Regulatory Compliance Coordinator (and SCPS alum) speaks to middle school CTE students about his background as an electrician.

On Thursday, at North Stafford High School, Physics students learned to think like an engineer about the technical characteristics of the solar array being installed right overhead.

Rich Allevi, President of Sun Tribe Solar, and North Stafford High School build circuits with mini solar panels which use the same photovoltaic technology as the larger modules being installed on the schools’ roof.

In addition to making circuits powered by mini solar panels, students analyzed graphs of solar energy production. Afterward, they were challenged to predict the solar production curve for the next three days. Congratulations to Relito Barrero, whose prediction came quite close to what actually happened! Students and community members will be able to access real-time data from North Stafford’s solar array through an online dashboard kiosk after the system goes live.

Students predicted future solar energy production curve based on the weather forecast…

…and compared with the actual results three days later.

Another event involving solar, elementary school students, and art is planned for this spring. Although it will take a few more months for the solar panels to deliver their first electrons to the high school, it is clear that SCPS is already energized by solar!

Read more in these media stories:

Stafford Co. Public Schools installing largest school rooftop solar array in Va. (

North Stafford High School embarks on solar transformation; Installs largest rooftop array in Virginia (

NOTE: Madison Energy Infrastructure acquired Sun Tribe Solar in April 2024. The team remains dedicated to continuing - and growing - the reach and impact of Solar Empowered Schools.

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Solar Empowered Schools’ mission is to help students shine through renewable energy education. Madison Energy Infrastructure manages Solar Empowered Schools to extend the benefits of solar energy beyond roofs and into classrooms, preparing students for STEM careers and empowering youth to actively participate in their clean energy future.