Students fund SOU farm solar expansion – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

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SOU’s Sustainability and Recycling Manager Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Rebecca Walker next to solar panels placed near the college garden and Science Works in Ashland.

SOU’s Sustainability and Recycling Manager Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Rebecca Walker next to solar panels placed near the college garden and Science Works in Ashland.

SOU’s Sustainability and Recycling Manager Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Rebecca Walker next to solar panels placed near the college garden and Science Works in Ashland.

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune A green solar project placed on the college gardening store off Walker Ave in Ashland.

A student-funded solar project at Southern Oregon University will generate an additional 15.48 kilowatts, adding to the university’s other nine solar panels and a clean energy capacity of 450 kilowatts.

A solar panel installed on a storage building at The Farm at SOU in mid-September leveraged a grant from the Oregon Department of Energy of approximately $ 15,000 combined with $ 30,000 from the SOU Green Fund, which is replenished with a “green label” fee of $ 13 per student each term and energy deals built into other student-funded sustainability projects, said Rebecca Walker, Head of Sustainability and Recycling of SOU.

The Green Fund allows the SOU student government to invest in sustainable development projects and offset the university’s water consumption.

Associate students at the University of Southern Oregon oversee the Green Fund and decisions about the project are made by the student environmental affairs committee, Walker said.

Projects valued at over $ 5,000, including the new solar panel, are reviewed by a sustainability council made up of staff, faculty and students, which returns recommendations to the student committee for final approval, a she declared.

Students are motivated by the idea of ​​seeing solar power on every roof, increasing the clean energy footprint of SOU in the community, and reducing the institution’s greenhouse gas emissions, Walker said. . Solar energy on campus covers around 10% of electricity consumption.

“Solar is becoming more and more accessible,” she said. “When you have projects funded in different ways, then it’s more accessible for this solar generated energy to reach different parts of the community, but also to think more creatively about how we can get more. solar panels. “

“It makes sense for our energy security, our energy pricing, to think this way,” she continued. “We are moving away from fossil fuels and we have to move away from fossil fuels because of climate change. “

A group of students and staff evaluated the bids on The Farm solar project, improving the educational value of the students involved, Walker said. Companies were considered on the basis of sustainability and community contribution, previous project experience and price. True South Solar, based in Ashland, was selected to install the storage array.

A second privately funded project placed six solar trackers atop raised panels adjacent to solar panels on the ScienceWorks property. The solar panel uses dual-axis tracking technology to maximize efficiency and yield by tracking the sun’s path throughout the day, according to a press release from SOU.

Abbott’s Development funded the project. Together, The Farm and ScienceWorks solar trackers are expected to produce 160 megawatts of electricity per year.

“It’s a coincidence that these projects happened within days of each other, but it also indicates our commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship,” Walker said.

Abbott’s has leased the property from the new SOU bay and is using the city’s virtual net metering system to direct power generation to the company’s cottage rental properties, the statement said. The university receives an annual rental payment, all renewable energy credits associated with the project, and access to the solar installation for education and research.


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