CCCC celebrates completion on Sun Power Solar Farm
The Cloud County Community College renewable energy program hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for its new energy-generating Sun Power Solar Farm on Thursday morning.
The solar farm, which was installed on the hill south of the college, consists of up to 300 kilowatts of solar panels.
Cloud County president Dr. Adrian Douglas said that the college is leading the way in solar energy use in the state.
“These actions directly support our guiding value of sustainability, and help fulfill our mission of preparing students to lead successful lives and enhancing the vitality of our communities,” Douglas said.
Construction of the solar farm was made possible by the support of the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, which awarded the college a $150,000 grant and the United State Department of Agriculture, which awarded the college a $100,833 grant.
The college board of trustees committed $50,000 in matching funds to support the grants.
“This project provides students with hands-on experience in a working solar farm, as well as providing energy to the college,” Douglas said, “Thank you to both of these organizations for these awards.”
Sun Power Solar Farm is part of the new solar energy technology training, which is now being offered at Cloud County under the renewable energy field of study. The program is intended to train students to become solar project designers, installers and operation technicians
The solar farm was designed and built by CCCC solar energy students.
Douglas thanked the representatives from Unified School District 333 for their support in providing classroom space for the solar energy technology program.
Funding for the classroom space in the USD 333 Tech Center came from Meridian Way Wind Farm gift fund that is awarded by the Cloud County board of commissioners.
“Because this space will be housed at the USD 333 Tech Center, it provides immediate access to a technical program for high school students,” Douglas said.
Andrew Clark, renewable energy technology instructor, said that construction began on the solar farm in July, 2018, and much of the infrastructure work was completed by the students.
Clark estimated that within a year, the solar farm will save the college $40,000-42,000 in electrical costs.
Combined with the electricity generated by the two college wind turbines, Clark said one-thirds of the college's electricity will soon come from renewable energy.
Bruce Graham, retired department chair of the wind energy technology program also spoke during the event. He said solar energy is becoming more and more efficient and cost effective.
“Thirty-six percent of energy in Kansas is produced by wind energy. And solar can be in the same place as wind, but it's just getting started,” Graham said.
Graham said benefits of installing residential solar panels include lower electrical bills, a small carbon footprint and they are easy to install.