Students Bring Solar Farm to Middlebury College

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Dear Friends & Readers,

If any of you solar enthusiasts should be visiting/driving through the state of Vermont later this year, you may want to visit Middlebury, Vermont.  Construction work is currently underway at Middlebury College for what will be Middlebury’s largest solar-power station.  Less than a half mile from the campus of Middlebury College, ground is broken on Route 125 for a 1.5 acres solar farm West of McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Middlebury’s Science facility.  In Spring of 2012, this solar energy system will join Middlebury College’s biomass plant and wind turbine on campus.  Middlebury College’s officials have signed an agreement with Williston-based AllEarth Renewables to create a small solar farm consisting of 34 solar trackers that will produce an average of 200,000 kilowatt-hours annually.  This installation will produce enough electricity for a year for one of the college’s residence halls the size of Battell Hall (housing about 238 students).

The AllSun Trackers (more on this in the next post of sunisthefuture.net) is the innovative solar energy system manufactured by AllEarth Renewables.  David Blittersdorf, CEO and founder of AllEarth Renewables, said that the solar trackers, mounted on poles, uses GPS and wireless technology to actively follow the sun throughout the day, producing more than 40%  energy than fixed solar panels of the same size.  “We’re excited to have this system to explore the potential for additional solar power in the future,” said Jack Byrne, Middlebury College director of sustainability integration. “This is a demonstration project that offers an opportunity for student learning and research as well as one more option to explore as we pursue our goal to become carbon neutal by 2016.  Staff will also have the chance to gain an understanding of the operational aspects of a solar energy system.”

According to Dean of Environmental Affairs Nan Jenks-Jay, students have expressed interest in developing a solar energy system at Middlebury for several years in a number of academic courses.  Four students in Professor of Economics Jon Isham‘s fall semester “Environmental Economics” class wrote a report, “The Cost-Benefit Analysis of a Proposed Small Scale Solar Farm at Middlebury College,” concluded that a project with AllEarth would have a positive economic and social impact.

 In 2010 students in an environmental sutdies seminar taught by Professor of Environmental and Biosphere Studies Steve Trombulak also recommended the college commission a solar project with AllEarth.

Hear! Hear! For these students at Middlebury College who were responsible for the final nudge to instigate this project that will provide economic benefit and solar power for Middlebury College.  Let’s hope that there will be more students throughout the country and our planet who will also take the initiative to bring forth learning opportunities for solar energy while benefiting their respective institutions.

~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

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