Patuxent High School senior Jordan Abell explained the pros and cons of wind energy

Huntingtown, MD – Students from Calvert County Public Schools’ (CCPS) four high schools participated in the annual Energy Expo. The event, which is organized by Huntingtown High School (HHS) science teacher Jamie Rowder, was held at HHS in early April. For the first time since Rowder first organized the event for the benefit of her students, the county’s other three high schools allowed students to attend.

In addition to students, several vendors were on hand to explain the diverse energy sources and analyze their pros and cons. The vendors included Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO), Exelon—owners and operators of Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant—Dominion Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas Plant and Tesla Automotive, a company owned by Elon Musk. The latter vendor brought one of their vehicles, which student attendees enjoyed occupying while imagining a sweet ride for the future. ” I love that Tesla is here with a car,” Rowder exclaimed.

Lezael Rorie, the Energy and Tech Programs manager for SMECO, shared with students and other community members the various ways customers can save on their electric bills. Having efficient large appliances—refrigerators, freezers, water heaters and especially heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) components—is a recommended way to keep current from being wasted. “Some old [HVAC] systems are not very efficient,” said Rorie. Additionally, Rorie outlined the diverse sources of electricity the co-op uses. Most of the energy sources SMECO distributes is from conventional providers—coal, natural gas and nuclear. Only about 15 percent comes from renewable sources—wind and solar. Rorie did tell that the co-op now has approximately 5,600 solar customers.

Students who have researched the various energy sources discovered amazing things about what the future could hold for consumers. Patuxent High School (PHS) junior Jordan Abell studied wind energy, a source she said was mostly utilized “out west” where the wide-open spaces allow for placement of many turbines. Abell said wind is on its way to supplying 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030. The source is clean, does not pollute and is cost-effective. The drawbacks to wind power include noise, potential harm to birds and the fact that it is not constant.

Another PHS student, senior Alex Heist, presented her findings on geothermal, a source that is used in over 20 countries. The source is also utilized by CCPS, as a few of the newer school buildings use geothermal for heating and cooling. Geothermal is renewable and, in the long run, inexpensive. Heist explained the drawbacks include hazardous gases and minerals may escape and take a long time to dispose of.

Rowder said that the vendors in attendance aided her in making the first energy expo for all four high schools successful. She noted that Exelon paid for the buses to bring students from the other three high schools to HHS.