Kent Columbiana Campuses Plug Into Solar Power

COLUMBIANA COUNTY, Ohio — In an effort to lower costs and reduce carbon footprint of Kent State University, solar panels are being installed at two more regional campuses.

Crews have begun assembling solar panels at the Salem and East Liverpool campuses in Columbiana County. Panels will be ground-mounted behind the main classroom building at the Salem campus and installed on the roof of Purinton Hall in East Liverpool, according to a release.

A year ago, the Kent State University Board of Trustees approved the solar panel project for six of its regional campuses as part of the university’s Energy Master Plan. Work began on panels at Kent State Trumbull campus in November.

Ten Nine Energy LLC was selected to lead the project. The project could produce up to 56% of the electricity required by the regional campuses annually while saving nearly $130,000 during the first year and more than $1.5 million for the duration of the 25-year contract.

There is no upfront capital expense to Kent State, but all electricity produced will be purchased at a negotiated rate with the developer, according to a release.

The overall project will also benefit the utility electric grid, according to the release. During the summer, with high electricity use because of air-conditioning, the solar array will produce the most electricity and reduce the stress on the electric grid.

In addition to Salem, East Liverpool and Trumbull, solar panels are being installed on the Ashtabula, Geauga and Stark campuses.

“I applaud Kent State’s vision and the commitment to our environment demonstrated by this project,” noted Dr. David Dees, dean and chief administrative officer of the Columbiana County campuses. “Solar energy is a clean, renewable energy source and this is a way for us to be good stewards of the local environment.”

The Salem project includes an array of about 1,560 solar panels and connecting them to the campus electric system, producing enough clean electricity to serve 73% of the electricity for the campus, according to the release. This is enough electricity to power 95 homes and translates to an expected cost savings of about $280,000 for the Salem Campus over the 25 years of the contract.

The project will reduce the carbon footprint by 617 tons of carbon dioxide, a contributor to global warming. This is equivalent to removing 121 cars from the roads, according to the release.

Once the solar array is completed, the land around the project will be planted with wildflowers and other native pollinators specifically selected to promote habitats that increase numbers of honeybees, butterflies and other native pollinators. This is intended to help restore balance to the ecosystem and can become an outdoor learning space for studying horticulture, botany, environmental sciences and other subjects.

This project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2021.

Because of limited open land on the East Liverpool Campus, a rooftop solar array of 232 solar panels will be installed on Purinton Hall and electricity will be extended to the building. The panels will be mounted on a weight ballasted system that does not require roof penetrations and will not compromise the new roofing system recently installed on the building.

The minimum 25-year solar electric cost savings to the East Liverpool Campus is expected to be about $40,000 with a reduced carbon footprint of 89 tons of carbon dioxide. This is the equivalent to removing 18 cars from roadways.

Pictured: Solar panels being installed at East Liverpool and Salem campuses of Kent State University. (Source/Image: Kent State University)

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.