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Science and Technology

Exploradio - Wooster's solar record
The College of Wooster installs the largest solar array of any school in the country without spending any cash
This story is part of a special series.

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
Project director Brandon Miller oversaw the installation of Wooster's 20,000 sq.ft. array, the largest for any college or university in the country. It's a record he doesn't expect to last long.
Courtesy of Jeff St.Clair
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The College of Wooster flipped the switch last month on the largest solar array for any college or university in the country.  They didn’t plan it that way, and they didn’t pay anything for it.

In this week’s Exploradio, going off the grid, bigtime.

Exploradio - Wooster's solar record

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Huge fans blow fresh air into the cavernous new Scot Center at the College of Wooster, named after their mascot, the fighting Scotsman, as workers put the finishing touches on the facility.

Solar installer Brandon Miller leads the way up six floors of the Scot tower.  This summer his workers hauled more than 1000 50-pound solar panels up these steps onto the slanting steel roof of the new student rec. center.

Our final ascent is up a metal ladder and through a narrow hatch onto an adjacent rooftop… “This was kind of a main staging area for us, for our tools and equipment, and safety gear.”

We’re looking out at the largest rooftop array at any college or university in America, a 20,000 square foot array producing 270-thousand kiloWatt-hours per year –

“That’ll offset about 4 dormitories.”

Miller says his company, Shaker Heights based Carbon Vision, is essentially leasing the rooftop space from the College of Wooster and selling back the electricity –

“They give us the roof to build the system and they use the energy that the system produces.”

It’s an arrangement that suited Wooster’s V.P. of Finance, Laurie Stikelmaier, because the deal did NOT involve any cash from the college.

 “We have a 19 year lease where we buy the energy from Carbon Vision and at the end of the 19 years, for a very small payment, the roof is ours… Had we had an out of pocket expense, we would not have done it.” 

The solar panels are guaranteed for 25 years, and could last much longer. 

The Wooster solar array not only produces electricity, the system also generates renewable energy credits or SREC’s.  These credits are then sold on the open market to power companies that need to meet renewable portfolio standards.

Carbon Vision’s Brandon Miller says a government renewable energy grant made the project possible – “One of the largest incentives is the federal ITC grant that is a grant that funds the total cost of the project at 30%.”

That grant expires at the end of this year, but as Miller points out, the source of solar power is everlasting.   "The sun rises every single day...We’re just taking advantage of Mother Nature.”

The Wooster solar array will be the first stop on this fall’s Green Energy Ohio solar tour.  The facility opens to students in January. 

I’m JSTC with this week’s Exploradio.

Related Links & Resources
Wooster's LIVE solar dashboard

Carbon Vision website

College of Wooster's Scot Center

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Listener Comments:

Way to go, Wooster! Great to see!

Posted by: Steve/Wooster'89 (Maine!) on September 14, 2011 11:09AM
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