ROBINSON, Ill. — One area college is taking a step toward renewable energy.
The Illinois Eastern Community Colleges Board of Trustees approved a project management agreement for the construction of a solar array at Lincoln Trail College.
The college is partnering with Tick Tock Energy for the construction of a 796.5 kW array that will consist of approximately 2100 panels.
“This array will fulfill 47 percent of the power consumption at Lincoln Trail College,” says President Dr. Ryan Gower. “This will represent tremendous savings for us in the years ahead.”
Gower says the timing to pursue solar power at Lincoln Trail College is good right now because the Renewable Portfolio Standard commits Illinois to produce 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025. At least one-point-five percent of that 25 percent must come from solar panels. While there are federal solar tax credits available, the IECC and LTC do not qualify for those, however solar panel system owners can sell solar energy renewable certificates in the market to brokers and suppliers. The estimated value of the SRECs over five years is $526,961.
The estimated cost of the project is $1.47-million, but the net cost goes down to $793-thousand when the value of the SRECs is factored in as well as a $150,000 smart inverter incentive. “These renewable energy certificates and incentives cut the cost of the construction by close to 50 percent. The window is closing on these programs, so the time to build is now.”
“With the savings that we’ll get by using solar power, we will save close to $100,000 on electricity charges the first year, and have a full return on our investment within eight years,” says Gower. “These savings will be reinvested back into the college in other ways. Not only is this project allowing us to be good stewards of the environment, but we’re also being good stewards of public dollars.”
Gower says the most exciting outcome of the solar array is the impact it will have on educational programs. “With this project, Lincoln Trail College is out in front of an industry that is coming of age. The classes and certificates we are developing will help students learn more about photovoltaics, concentrated solar power, hydropower, and wind and give them the skills they need to install and repair commercial and residential systems.”
“This is a very exciting time for Lincoln Trail College,” says Gower. “If this project moves forward as we anticipate, we will have three major construction or expansion efforts happening simultaneously with the addition to the Zwermann Arts Center and the expansion of Statesmen Park. Progress continues to be made to secure funding for the Crawford County Recreation Center and we continue to lobby the State of Illinois to release the dollars for the Technology Center.”