Adams State reaches out to the sun

(10-10-2011)

Work began last week to install a solar photo voltaic system on the roof of Adams State College's Plachy Hall. Once the system is operational, it will generate six percent or more of the electricity needed to power the campus. The project should be finished by the end of November.

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 kWh of clean energy annually, roughly six percent of ASC's annual consumption," said Bill Mansheim, Adams State vice president for Finance & Government Relations.

A crew with a crane moved solar panel equipment to the roof of Plachy Hall last week.

A crew with a crane moved solar panel equipment to the roof of Plachy Hall last week. The new system will generate 6 percent of the electricity needed by Adams State.

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 a solar PV system on the Adams State campus. A 300 kW DC solar PV system will be located on the roof tops of Plachy Hall, the college athletics facility on Stadium & Sunset Dr. Oak Leaf currently operates about 50 similar systems in Colorado. The company will construct, own, and operate the system; Adams State will have 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 motion sensor switches across campus. Phase II will install $1.5 million worth of more efficient plumbing fixtures, 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