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January 1, 2013

Sinks Canyon producing energy with solar panels

The Central Wyoming College Sinks Canyon Center is now producing some of its own energy.
A new solar power system installed at the Orchard House is producing as much energy as it uses, said Ken Colovich, CWC director of Lander operations.

The solar array comprised of 26 solar panels and covering half the area of the roof, is converting sunlight into electricity.

A representative of Creative Energies installed the system while teaching a three-day class on solar technology and solar power system installation. The course concluded with hands-on installation day in which the Lander-based company, CWC staff and 14 CWC students together built the solar array.

“It is a perfect building for solar generation,” said Latane Frank, the lead solar installer for the project. “The roof faces due south and has very little shading. For a building of its size, its energy use is relatively low so a modest-sized solar power system can offset 100 percent of the building’s energy demand.”

In addition to the solar power system, a web-based energy monitoring system was also installed. This allows CWC to observe the building energy use in great detail and watch the solar generation in real time. After it was installed, a reading indicated the building consumed 240 kilowatt hours while producing 249.

The 14 students were given an introduction to solar power system theory and design, equipment selection, project planning and system testing and maintenance. They got hands-on experience with attaching the solar mounting system to the roof by installing the solar array and with programming and interpreting the energy monitoring system.

Colovich said the system was installed with funds from a State Energy Sector Partnership grant. He is hoping to secure other grant funds to utilize solar and other green technologies to power other facilities at the SCC, which includes a larger classroom facility, Fremont Hall, the shower house and cabins.