Back to school time means that students are ready to head to the classrooms to learn. But at Oregon State University-Cascades (OSU-Cascades), students are already getting a real-life lesson in energy conservation through solar panels. At its branch campus in Bend, Oregon, solar arrays will be installed on the Cascades Hall roof and a parking garage this fall.
The new installations will both help reduce energy demands at the campus, and also educate students in the OSU’s energy engineering management degree.
In order to build the solar array, $575,000 will be funded from the school’s general fund (tuition, fees and state dollars). The money will be paid back in part from savings on the school’s electricity bill.
OSU-Cascades spokesperson, Christine Coffin, observed:
“We’re seeing this as an investment. It’s definitely a significant amount of money, but we’re investing not only in becoming sustainable and not reliant on outside energy sources but also in our energy management program.”
About 1 month from now, the new solar panel project will get underway at OSU-Cascades. It will include an informative kiosk that displays the solar panels’ energy generation in real time.
Natural resources instructor Matt Schinderman (with whom I work on the Board of Directors for Bend 2030), has worked for 2 years to reduce the campus energy demand. He states that the new solar project should produce around 45-55 kilowatts of power, to offset about 18% of daily energy consumption. But additional energy savings can be achieved through reduced electricity demand.
The overall goal is 40-50% reduction in total energy use.