PLU is taking the first steps to install a solar array on its campus. For weeks now PLU staff have been meeting with Artison Electric, a panel installer from Vashon Island. The goal is to design an installation large enough to cap out a state grant for renewable energy. To do so, Artison has identified several buildings on campus that would be in good sun locations, with limited tree interference, and capable to hold the weight of large installations. Those buikldings will be Olson Auditorium, Hinderlie Hall, Mary Baker Russel, Facilities Management, Morken’s Penthouse, a section of Reike and Tinglestad Hall.
These buildings’ arrays would total a 478 kW system. To put that in perspective, only 2 other colleges in Pierce County have solar panels. Tacoma Community College has a 24kW system, and Pierce College has a 10 kW. PLU is thinking big. If this happens, over 20% of PLU’s power would come from a wholly renewable and non-ecosystem threatening source. That makes 60% total when the renewable energy credits from the student tuition fee are counted.
I’d love to see us be at 100% though. What would it take to do that? Well, actually, when Artison was asked this exact question, the answer wasn’t more panels, it was more conservation. That same old broken record message; turn off lights, unplug things when not in use, go outside! The answer is so simple, it shoudl be easy to make this 60% stretch to cover all of PLU, and even more. Maybe we could be generating back into other Parkland Light and Water properties, and stop another damn from being built. Better yet, stop the amount of coal BPA needs to burn to supplement their hydroelectricity.
If you are interested in learning more about solar power, check out the solar tour tomorrow: http://www.solarwashington.org/. Or call up the Sustainability Office to join a training in late October.