The Central Oregon Community College campus in Redmond has taken the initiative to install over fifteen thousand solar panels in a massive solar array near the school.
Two major solar companies helped the campus build the array. IGS solar, a company from Ohio, helped COCC Redmond finance the array, and Sunlight Solar, a local Bend company, provided and installed the panels themselves.
“Our partnership with IGS Solar is a great example of a win-win that ultimately benefits our students,” said Matthew McCoy, COCC’s vice president for administration.
“This project confirms our commitment to sustainability while helping keep educational opportunities affordable, ” said McCoy.
Costing nearly two million dollars, COCC Redmond went above and beyond the state 1.5% for Green Energy Technology in Public Buildings law. The law requires any public building costing over one million dollars to invest at least 1.5% of the cost into solar or wind power.
According to Dr. Shirley Metcalf, COCC president, the solar array will be able to power the entire school, including six new buildings, thanks to a forty-three million dollar bond passed in 2009.
This bond was coupled with grants from both the Energy Trust of Oregon and Pacific Power’s Blue Sky Energy Program, two organizations dedicated to bringing clean energy to Oregon.
The solar array is expected to provide at least 90% of the campus’s annual energy needs, an unprecedented level of sustainability and a huge step towards COCC’s goal of clean energy and low environmental impact, according to McCoy.
While the Redmond campus is flat and sparsely vegetated, the Bend campus is a located in a slightly more hilly, forested area. Requiring flat, open spaces, installing solar panels would be very difficult in our area.
Solar panels require a full spectrum of light all day to reach maximum output, and with so much tree cover constant light is hard to get.
There is also no room to build a solar array, as the one in Redmond takes up 3.19 acres of flat land, something that just doesn’t exist on the Bend campus.
Despite this, COCC administration is still adamant that sustainability is a priority for all their campuses, and Dr. Metcalf promises to “strive to provide a green environment for our students.”
Nainoa Kanaiaupuni Naff | The Broadside