WYE MILLS – Based on the success of its solar energy program over the past year, Chesapeake College is decommissioning its wind turbine on the northeast corner of its campus off U.S. Route 50 and plans to invest future resources in renewable energy produced by the sun.
Since installing a six-acre solar array and photovoltaic parking canopy on the south side of its property in 2016, Chesapeake has produced enough power in one year to offset approximately 45 percent of the college’s energy demand.
“Solar energy has propelled our renewable energy production,” said Dr. Stuart Bounds, Chesapeake’s interim president. “In the first year, the array produced 2.25 million kilowatts of electricity at a cost of $106,000. This represents a savings of $85,000 off of grid prices. We anticipate similar savings on utility bills over the next 19 years, which doesn’t include any additional solar installations constructed.”
Chesapeake is also incorporating solar energy into its curriculum. This fall, the college is offering workforce classes in solar photovoltaic electricity and electric vehicle technology.
“Our vision is for the college to be a living laboratory for studying renewable energy and sustainability,” Bounds said.
Chesapeake’s wind turbine, installed in 2011, marked the beginning of the college’s sustainability efforts and energy-savings measures on campus that now include solar energy.
In February, the turbine’s generator suffered catastrophic failure. Most likely caused by a power surge, repair estimates are between $20,000 and $25,000.
“The turbine was a catalyst in creating a culture of energy conservation at Chesapeake,” Bounds said. “But we determined that the repair cost was too expensive and our resources could more effectively be invested in solar power, which will result in greater energy savings on campus.”
Being dismantled and removed from campus this week, the turbine will be sold on the secondary market, according to Bounds.
This year, Chesapeake has continued expansion of its solar energy program working with Pepco Holdings and Delmarva Power on a first-in-the-nation collaboration.
In July, the first phase of a 2 megawatt utility-scale battery project was installed to provide ongoing electrical storage for the college. The project integrates the college’s solar array with the campus and regional electrical grids. The battery will also serve the regional grid by regulating voltage and frequency and smoothing out power fluctuations caused by renewable energy generation.
Other recent sustainability efforts at Chesapeake include installing electrical vehicle charging stations; working with Midshore Riverkeepers on stormwater infrastructure to improve the quality of the Wye East River; and installing an on-campus recycling center with regular pick-ups.
Chesapeake received recognition in 2017 for its efforts in support of sustainability. The Health Professions and Athletic Center (HPAC) earned LEED Platinum certification, and Chesapeake became the first community college in the U.S. to receive a Better Building Challenge Achievers Award from the U.S. Department of Energy.
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