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Pedal power

Folsom High cycling team tries to generate 10,000 watts
By: Jim Ratajczak, The Telegraph
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To raise money and awareness, the Folsom High School cycling team demonstrated the true cost of electricity the hard way. Partnering with SMUD, the team held Folsom's first 10,000 Watt Challenge, a fundraiser which had the high school cyclists using their bikes as stationary generators. They're understanding how much effort is in the energy, said Jason McMillen, the team's coach. I think we're the first high school cycling team to do this. By attaching four bikes to 12-volt generators, team members pedaled throughout the day in an effort to put 10,000 watts of power into a power grid. The team hopes to sell the collected watts as clean, alternative power and raise $10,000. Basically, we're doing this fundraiser for our team and charity, said McMillen. That charity is Ride for a Reason, which supports the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the Davis Finney Foundation, and the UC Davis Cancer Center. While team members worked up a sweat, McMillen said the power they were generating was only enough to power a small refrigerator “ a tough lesson learned. Kids leave their lights on in their room all the time, he said. They take the power we have for granted. In addition to the bikes, the 10,000 Watt Challenge featured an information table from SMUD which had mini-solar panels students could play with. More impressive, though, was the 1 kilowatt solar panel system, which powered the event's music. Today, we're providing solar-powered audio for the team, said Dave Crespo, SMUD's operations and maintenance supervisor for photovoltaic. It's a solar-powered iPod. In addition to powering the tunes, Crespo said SMUD was at the high school to also raise awareness. We're trying to get as much of our younger population involved with solar energy as we can, he said. The Great Harvest Bread Company was also on hand to help the cyclists maintain energy during their rides by handing out free bread to the participants. For McMillen, the road leading up to the 10,000 Watt Challenge made for a tough ride. Right around the first of the year we started to put this thing together, he said. It was a way bigger project than we thought. I thought I was very original (with the idea), but you look on the Internet and there are all sorts of packets on this. But with the help of SMUD, Folsom's Bicycles Plus, and the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, McMillen's vision became a reality. And he hopes it made an impact on the school's students. It's their future, he said. They're the ones who are going to deal with it in 20 years when it's a lot worse. One team member, at least, said the event will make a lasting impression on the way he conserves energy. It shows how inefficient people are with energy by leaving on lights or the TV or the computer a lot, said freshman Sheridan Reed. I leave my computer on a lot, so I think I'll stop doing that.