University gets serious about solar production
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 22:09
The UVM horse farm on Spear Street just got an upgrade in the alternative energy department.
UVM unveiled 134 solar panels, which were installed over the summer onto the roof of the Ellen A. Hardacre Equine Center in a ceremony Aug. 29.
Starting this month, the solar panels will produce an average of 100-kilowatt hours of electricity per day to support 8.5 percent of the farm’s energy needs, University Communications stated.
“The establishment of the solar panels is what typifies Vermont and what we are,” said Tom Vogelmann, dean of UVM’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). “The 32-kilowatt array can support five to six medium sized homes.”
The total price of the solar panels was $135,990, Sustainability Director Gioia Thompson stated in a press release.
“With the Clean Energy Fund supplying $80,250 of the total, an incentive grant of $55,740 from the Clean Energy Development Fund made up the difference,” Thompson said.
Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Chuck Ross said roughly eight or nine years from now, the University will see a return in the investment they made on the panels.
“This is what we need at universities to push for sustainable energy,” Ross said. “By the time we have 9 billion people on this Earth, we will be in a bad position if this doesn’t go on more often.”
Kirk Herander of Vermont Solar Engineering, the company that installed the panels, was able to increase the original estimate of 80 panels to the final number of 134.
“The equine center’s roof, which is typical of many roofs found on Vermont farms, required no extra reinforcement to bear the weight of the panels,” Herander stated in a press release.
The idea of the solar panels on the roof of the horse farm arose from a UVM Equus class, a hands-on horse management course, in 2009, led by Josie Davis, the associate dean in CALS.
One of Davis’ students, Rachel Cadwallader-Staub ‘10, brought up the hypothetical question: “How could we make the equine center greener in a way that would have a lesser impact on the animals?”
Caldwaller-Staub then suggested the construction of a greener horse barn that could give back energy, and it was this idea that she submitted to the Clean Energy Fund (CEF) in 2009.
The CEF gets funding from all UVM students, according to the CEF website. Every student pays a $10 fee each semester to establish new clean energy projects.
This fee brings the fund to about $225,000 and has allowed the CEF to finance 21 projects to date, the website stated.
The CEF lets students submit ideas in the fall semester on the UVM Office of Sustainability website, which later gets voted upon and presented before the CEF board.
“The solar panels on the horse farm are a great use of my $10,” junior Mark Camilleri said. “There’s a reason I came here and the Office of Sustainability has framed that very well. I’m glad that the carbon footprint of my campus has been slightly reduced because of the good this school does.”