Solar energy now helps WITC-New Richmond
Though not uncommon, the sight of solar panels soaking up the sun
still seems out of the ordinary – especially on a college campus. But
thanks to the participation of New Richmond Utilities and WPPI Energy, a
16-panel PV (photovoltaic) solar system was recently installed on the
east lawn at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-New Richmond.
“With the generous financial support through a grant from New
Richmond Utilities and WPPI Energy, we were able to have this PV system
installed at our New Richmond campus – a fine model of collaboration with our
local utility,” says Ted May,
Ph.D., Academic Dean - General Studies, Renewable Energy and Sustainability.
“This project demonstrates how using energy from a renewable
resource like the sun can benefit our community and our environment,” says Mike
Darrow, New Richmond City Administrator / Utility Manager. “New Richmond
Utilities recognizes our shared responsibility to help protect the environment
for future generations. Supporting local efforts such as the WITC solar project
is one way we’re working to do our part.”
“This 4 kilowatt system is significantly larger than those at our
other campuses. It allows us to continue our ongoing efforts to reduce energy
costs for college operations, while providing educational opportunities for our
students,” May explains.
This New Richmond PV system also increases education potential
since the students in the Industrial Automation and Controls Networking program
will work with and learn from its monitoring software. WITC-Ashland also offers
a solar or wind electricity certificate, which electricians may pursue to
enhance their knowledge and skills for installing renewable electricity systems.
In theory, the process is basic: The panels capture solar power and
convert it to direct current (DC). The power is channeled into WITC’s existing
electrical system or power grid. It’s estimated the solar PV system-produced
electricity will save approximately $650 per year.
The PV system is mounted on a pole for clear access to the sun and
is tilted as the seasons change. The system will produce power on cloudy days
and can handle up to one-inch hailstones and winds of 90 mph.
Installation of this PV system on the New Richmond campus is a very
visible sign of WITC’s ongoing dedication to sustainability. Across the
11-county district, WITC has worked to reduce energy consumption and invest
moderately in renewable energy projects.
The Ashland and Superior campuses have PV systems installed, and
the Ashland campus also installed a small (3 kilowatt) wind turbine. Among the
many investments in sustainability in operations, the Ashland and Rice Lake
campuses have installed rain gardens; and the Rice Lake campus has an electric
car for its conference center.
Utilities is a local, municipally owned and operated electric utility. WPPI
Energy is the nonprofit power supplier for New Richmond Utilities and 50 other
consumer-owned electric utilities. Through WPPI Energy, these public power
utilities share resources and own generation facilities to provide reliable,
affordable electricity to more than 195,000 homes and businesses in Wisconsin,
Upper Michigan and Iowa.
more information about WITC’s Renewable Energy
and Sustainability efforts, visit
www.witc.edu/sustainability/index.htm. The PV-produced electricity will be
monitored and a link provided on this site to see results.