Plans For Solar Panels At B.D. Owens Library In the Works

Plans are in the works for solar panels to be installed at the B.D. Owens Library to help Northwest become more energy efficient. The Jon T. Rickman Electronic Campus Support Building has had solar panels for several years.

In an effort toward energy saving measures and sustainability, the University will be piloting the use of solar technology through solar panels.

This summer, 50 365 watt solar panel modules will be placed on the B.D. Owens Library roof. The solar panels will produce 18.25 kilowatts of energy for the library.

Sustainability Coordinator John Viau said the solar panels will power a floor of the library and all of its outside lights.

“It almost seems ridiculous that I’m excited about 18.25 kilowatts generating on campus when we consume as much electricity as we do,” Viau said. “However, as sustainability coordinator, my hope is that this is our foot in the door. Because there are some incentives out there, we can get people on board with a solar project.”

The University's power provider, Kansas City Power and Light Company, has a solar power rebate program, encouraging the use of solar technology. Northwest is a part of that program, receiving rebate payouts of 50 cents per watt before June 30 and 25 cents per watt after July 1.

“It is the first step,” Viau said. “Is it going to knock down our main campus meter? No, but it should take care of a pretty healthy portion of the library. It’s a big step in making that building more efficient, but it’s a small step in our move towards solar power and renewables.”

Assistant Vice President of Facility Services and Capital Programs Allen Mays said working with KCP&L in the solar technology program gives the University an opportunity to turn back the dial to help save some energy.

“This is basically a pilot project to see how it works,” Mays said. “We thought we would start small, see how it works, how it incorporates into our existing electrical system.”

The library was chosen as the location for the solar panels because it has a lot of roof space, the panels will be easily seen and facilities has worked on the library for several projects in the past year.

“We are very familiar with the building,” Mays said. “Also, it’s a high activity building. One thing that we want to do is awareness. Through the sustainability program, (we are) trying to get occupants and people who come to campus and visit different building conscious of ways that we are trying to be energy efficient.”

The Jon T. Rickman Electronic Campus Support Center has a small array of solar panels on the south side of the building; those panels are the only panels on campus.

“We do have some solar on campus, but that was done years ago; so this is a new opportunity we are working on now,” Mays said.

Mays said he is going to be meeting with KCP&L within the next two weeks to discuss a larger project for the University.

“From the energy and sustainability standpoint, I’ve got to be extremely progressive in trying to help support the University,” Mays said. “From a utility perspective on campus, the traditional way of thinking is not going to help us from a budget perspective, so I’ve got to try and be creative.”

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