Haut Gap Middle School students soon will be learning about renewable energy by using a new pole-mounted solar power system.

The school is the first in Charleston County to be part of the Green Power Solar School program, a project of Santee Cooper and electric cooperatives statewide intended to encourage interest in the environment and demonstrate the feasibility and limitations of renewable power.

The program was launched in 2006 and has expanded to 20 schools across the state, including Sangaree Middle School in Berkeley County.

On Tuesday, Berkeley Electric Cooperative and Santee Cooper, the state-owned electric utility, dedicated at Haut Gap Middle the new 2-kilowatt solar power system, which cost about $13,000.

The installation at the Johns Island school marks the first in a recent expansion of the solar schools program. At least six other districts also soon will receive the solar panels.

The solar cell array provides a teaching, research and hands-on demonstration opportunity for sixth graders.

The project includes a renewable energy curriculum that meets state science standards. Students use an online monitoring system to see how much electricity is being made by their solar cells, as well as by others across the state.

"This program will provide the students with a hands-on learning experience that will teach them about solar energy and how to use energy wisely," said Dwayne Cartwright, chief executive officer and president of Berkeley Electric Cooperative.

Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at @Diette on Twitter or (843) 937-5546.