ASC soaks up the sun

(03-26-2012)

A 300 kw dc solar photo- voltaic system was installed on the roof of Adams State College's Plachy Hall in late 2011. The system is now generating at least six percent of the electricity needed to power the campus. Actual production could exceed that estimate, because solar photovoltaic systems are 20 percent more efficient in the San Luis Valley, due to the region's cooler temperatures, clear skies, and abundant sunshine.

"This $1.4 million solar project will produce an estimated 500,000 kWh of clean energy annually, roughly six percent of ASC's annual consumption," said Bill Mansheim, Adams State vice president for Finance & Governmental Relations.

The project is part of a solar power purchase agreement between Adams State and Oak Leaf Energy Partners Ohio, LLC. Oak Leaf Energy Partners obtained an Xcel Energy Solar Reward to construct the system. Oak Leaf currently operates about 50 similar systems in Colorado. The company constructed, owns, and operates the system; Adams State has options to purchase it.

Adams State is also in the second phase of an energy performance contract with Trane U.S.A., a Qualified Energy Services Company. Phase I of the project, valued at $1.2 million, replaced light fixtures and installed motion sensor switches across campus. Phase II entails installation of $1.5 million worth of more efficient plumbing fixtures and energy efficient HVAC systems and controls, including fans, fan controls, and heat controls. The project also includes enhancing building "envelopes," which include insulation and seals on window and doors. "We'll save on our utility bills and reduce green house emissions," Mansheim said.

By Julie Waechter