ASC Trustees give green light to sustainable energy projects

(06-15-2011)

Soon, six percent of the electricity needed to power Adams State College will come from the sun. The college Board of Trustees, at a special meeting June 14, approved two projects that will reduce energy consumption and develop sustainable power.

Adams State will proceed with a solar power purchase agreement with Oak Leaf Energy Partners Ohio, LLC, as well as an energy performance contract with Trane U.S.A., a Qualified Energy Services Company.

"These projects will both reduce our energy costs and increase our use of sustainable energy," said Bill Mansheim, vice president for Finance & Government Relations.

Faculty Trustee Carol Guerrero-Murphy said, "Students appreciate our efforts toward sustainability. It's a concern for their future."

A $12 million renovation of ASC's athletic facility, Plachy Hall, was completed a couple years ago. Now the building will sport a rooftop solar PV system.

A $12 million renovation of ASC's athletic facility, Plachy Hall, was completed a couple years ago. Now the building will sport a rooftop solar PV system.

Oak Leaf Energy Partners obtained an Xcel Energy Solar Reward to construct a solar PV system on ASC's campus. A 300 kW DC solar PV system will be located on the roof tops of Plachy Hall, the college athletics facility. Oak Leaf currently operates about 50 similar systems in Colorado. The company will construct, own, and operate the system; Adams State will have options to purchase it.

"This $1.4 million solar project will produce an estimated 500 kWh of clean energy annually, roughly six percent of ASC's annual consumption," Mansheim added. Actual production could exceed that estimate, because solar photovoltaic systems are 20 percent more efficient in the San Luis Valley, due to the region's cooler temperatures, clear skies, and abundant sunshine.

A roof-top solar PV system will provide 6 percent of ASC's electricity needs.

A roof-top solar PV system will provide 6 percent of ASC's electricity needs.

The energy performance contract approval gives the green light for phase II of energy conservation upgrades across campus. TRANE recently completed Phase I of the project, valued at $1.2 million, which entailed installation of more efficient plumbing fixtures, as well as light fixtures and motion sensor switches. Phase II will install $1.5 million worth of energy efficient HVAC systems and controls. It will include fans, fan controls, and heat controls.

"We'll save on our utility bills and reduce green house emissions," Mansheim said. "This contract will allow us to improve indoor air quality, something we couldn't have afforded otherwise." The project is expected to reduce the college's utility costs by $110,000 each year; the savings will be used to finance the project.

He noted this is a "guaranteed energy savings" performance contract by which TRANE will pay the difference if at any time the savings fall short of the guarantee.

By Julie Waechter