By Ellie Nesbit ’14
Colorado College is looking to once again take advantage of Colorado’s famous sunshine in its pursuit of carbon neutrality. The college has approved two new on-campus solar projects that are scheduled for completion in August.
The newest solar panel additions will be located on the roofs of the El Pomar Sports Center and the Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center. The panels on El Pomar will generate approximately 278,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year, producing about 39 percent of the building’s electric use. The panels on Cornerstone are expected to produce 164,600 kWh per year, meeting 26 percent of the building’s electricity needs.
There are also plans to install panels on Spencer Center as well as the Synergy House this summer.
In 2008 the Edith Gaylord Apartments received a 22-kilowatt solar array, becoming the first building on campus to have solar panels. Worner Campus Center followed in 2012 with the installation of a 35-kilowatt array that produces 63,000 kilowatt hours annually.
More recently, KRCC added solar panels to its roof in the fall of 2012. The panels produce 3,240 kilowatt hours annually and offset about 10 percent of the building’s electricity needs. The Children’s Center at Colorado College also received panels, which produce 414,000 kilowatt hours a year.
Currently, the college produces 131,040 kWh of solar energy each year on campus. With the completion of the El Pomar and Cornerstone panels in August, the college will produce 573,640 kWh of solar electricity on campus annually.
In total, the college purchased 3.2 percent of its total energy (and 10.9 percent of its electricity) from renewable sources in 2013. Much of that is provided by wind purchased from Colorado Springs Utilities. The college is hoping to increase its amount of solar power by investing in an off-campus solar array. However, there have been a few roadblocks in the process.
CC, the Colorado Springs City Council, and Colorado Springs Utilities have been in negotiations during the past nine months regarding a two-megawatt solar farm to be built somewhere within the city. The farm would offset approximately 35 percent of CC’s total electrical usage.
After several months of negotiations the college ultimately rejected the deal presented by Colorado Springs Utilities and City Council due to unfavorable conditions. Currently, efforts are being made to look at alternative land for the solar array. The decisions made by Colorado Springs Utilities have put the college’s goal of carbon-neutrality in jeopardy, prompting students to show up at Colorado Springs Utilities in early April to protest the company’s actions.
While there is no immediate solution to an off-campus array in sight, the on-campus solar additions are another small part of Colorado College’s serious commitment to carbon neutrality.