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SIUE’s sustainable energy commitment ‘energized’ with Community Solar agreement

A community solar garden is underway

The cougar statue on SIUE’s campus. (SIUE photo)

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville recently signed an agreement to purchase up to 5.7 megawatts of energy through the State of Illinois’ Community Solar program. The purchase allowed SIUE to continue plans for a community solar garden, which kickstarts the University’s solar energy commitment by subscribing to multiple planned or under construction solar fields in the state.

Craig Holan, director of Facilities Management at SIUE, stated, “by participating in the Community Solar program as a major user of electricity in the Metro East area, we have not only supported our own and the State of Illinois’ energy sustainability goals, but also received a reduction in our electricity costs as well.”

This is considered Phase I of SIUE’s Energy Plan. Phase II, for which plans are already underway, is the construction of up to 40 acres of solar installation on the Edwardsville Campus, which would allow the University to work towards achieving energy independence as well as helping the University to further reduce its carbon footprint. An added benefit is field that would help insulate the University from fluctuations in the energy market by placing up to 6.8 megawatts of solar production behind the meter. Phase II also provides needed infrastructure to further expand solar production on campus.

“SIUE has 2,660 acres on the Edwardsville Campus, including almost 400 acres that would be suitable for solar production,” said Dr. Bill Retzlaff, vice chancellor for Administration. “SIUE has requested additional funding from the State of Illinois for a Phase III solar field.”

Chancellor James T. Minor noted, “SIUE’s commitment to renewable and sustainable energy goes beyond the solar projects including the addition of a sustainable and renewable energy manager to oversee the campus efforts. These include the LED conversion project which is more than 60% complete and has already significantly reduced the energy usage on campus with an estimated savings of $300,000 to $400,000 annually.”

SIUE also performed a Chilled Water system upgrade including improved valves, metering and filtration system.

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