Prince George’s County now has its first solar powered school as Kenneth W. Richardson returned home to DeMatha to install 550 solar panels at the school.

Richardson’s relationship with DeMatha began when his father pushed him and his brother to go to the school to take advantage of the school’s historic athletic heritage.

“When we first came here I found out I wasn’t up to the standards of the basketball program and unfortunately my brother, although he was a noted football player, entered DeMatha with another great football player that went on to the NFL, Brian Westbrook,” Richardson said. “So we focused on other outlets here at DeMatha.”

Those other interests led to the forming of Richardson’s company, Affordable Solar Works, which is responsible for what he hopes is the first of many Prince George’s Schools to go solar.

In completing the work, Richardson had high praise for Prince George’s County and its permitting process. He said he’d heard horror stories about it, but it went smoothly for him and his company.

“It was indeed a pleasure to go through that permit process which many developers fear,” Richardson said. “P.G. was very expedient, efficient and very helpful through this whole process. I can’t thank them enough for that process.”

Pepco officials are praising Richardson for this milestone too as they say renewable and more efficient energy is a priority for them.

“We do want to be at the forefront,” said Thomas Graham, Pepco president for the D.C. region. “A project like this at a great school like DeMatha is outstanding and what it should do is show leadership and drive other projects throughout this region, which my company fully endorses.”

Richardson cosigned Graham saying that Pepco was very accommodating as well in how they intricately merge the new solar panels into the grid. He said Pepco would be receiving less money from DeMatha due to the energy savings yet the utility giant was a great partner throughout the process.

Richardson has larger plans than just DeMatha though. He’s already campaigning for the opportunity to place solar panels on schools throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area as well.

“As a product of this great institution we’re always taught to strive to succeed so I can’t miss this opportunity to say that we have gone through great lengths to put together a proposal,” he said. “We have the funding and we have the ability to install solar panels on all the schools in the area. My office will try to identify those power players and hope that they seriously consider it.”

The 550 panels are expected to produce 30-35 percent of the school’s daily electricity. There are 330 panels on the roof of the school’s new convocation center alone and they could produce 40 percent of that buildings daily output.

The school will not lose any savings on any unused energy; it will be credited back to the school on its monthly bill.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO