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Discovery Center opens new energy exhibit

A new renewable energy exhibit was dedicated Aug. 28 at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, above.  Pictured left to right are, front row, Camille Terry, The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce; Shamus Farrell, Mindy McHale, Dan McHale, Hire Electric; Dick Wanderscheid, Bonneville Environmental Foundation; Carolyn Purcell, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center; Darcy Nothnagle, Dave Karlson, Google; Dan Spatz, City of The Dalles, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center; Lisa Farqharson, The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce. Back row, Daniel Hunter, City of The Dalles; John Langfeldt, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center; Jonathan Lewis, Hire Electric; Tom Lieurance, Frank Toda, Columbia Gorge Community College; Scott Hege, Wasco County Commissioners; Andrea Klaas, Port of The Dalles; Dave Griffith, Griffith Motors; Rod Runyon, Wasco County Commissioner. 	Photo courtesy Tiffany Hardin

A new renewable energy exhibit was dedicated Aug. 28 at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, above. Pictured left to right are, front row, Camille Terry, The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce; Shamus Farrell, Mindy McHale, Dan McHale, Hire Electric; Dick Wanderscheid, Bonneville Environmental Foundation; Carolyn Purcell, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center; Darcy Nothnagle, Dave Karlson, Google; Dan Spatz, City of The Dalles, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center; Lisa Farqharson, The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce. Back row, Daniel Hunter, City of The Dalles; John Langfeldt, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center; Jonathan Lewis, Hire Electric; Tom Lieurance, Frank Toda, Columbia Gorge Community College; Scott Hege, Wasco County Commissioners; Andrea Klaas, Port of The Dalles; Dave Griffith, Griffith Motors; Rod Runyon, Wasco County Commissioner. Photo courtesy Tiffany Hardin

A new renewable energy exhibit was dedicated Aug. 28 at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center.

The interpretive exhibit on solar energy includes schematics of solar energy systems and a real-time display of solar energy being produced.

Through a $50,000 grant provided by Google, the Discovery Center was able to build solar panels that also double as a shade cover for picnic area.

These panels are non-reflective and built with a wooden framework, allowing them to blend into the overall Discovery Center design and not disrupt the scenic views. The solar panels are linked to an informational kiosk inside the museum that details the energy being produced. A $25,000 grant from Bonneville Environmental Foundation was used to create an interactive exhibit in the museum to highlight renewable energy alternatives.

“The solar pavilion project will be used as a model for solar energy projects in the National Scenic Area. These panels make visiting the Discovery Center more interesting and exciting, and help reduce our operating costs,” said Carolyn Purcell, executive director at the museum.

“We thank Google for helping us turn this idea into a reality.”

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center partnered with the Delta Energy Club, composed of renewable energy students at Columbia Gorge Community College, to design and manage the project.

This partnership helped students gain valuable skills that can be applied in the renewable energy sector.

The solar panels are also accompanied by an exhibit where museum visitors can learn first-hand how renewable energy works and how it helps to reduce carbon emissions.

“This is an excellent project that helps reduce carbon emissions, teaches students STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills in a hands-on way, and educates the community on the value of solar energy,” said Dave Karlson, site manager at The Dalles Google Data Center.

“We are pleased to support such a great project.”

Since 2008, Google has given more than $9 million to Oregon nonprofits.

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