Westminster College Becomes Utah's First Solar-Producing Campus
AUGUST 14, 2007
Westminster College is about to become the first college in Utah to meet part of its electricity needs with on-site solar power. With a generous grant from Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky renewable energy program, the college is preparing to turn Utah’s hot summer sun into free, clean electricity for campus.
This week, an eight kilowatt photovoltaic system will be installed on the Dolores Doré Eccles Health, Wellness and Athletic Center. Forty-two solar panels on the center’s roof will produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of almost three typical Utah homes. By using pollution-free solar power instead of coal-generated electricity, the system will keep 14.7 tons of carbon dioxide out of the air each year. This is equivalent to not using 1,500 gallons of gas, or removing three cars from Utah’s roads each year.
The new system represents an important step and is part of Westminster’s larger effort to become a leader in environmental sustainability.
“As educators, I believe it is important for us to be good stewards of our environment and to model the behaviors we are encouraging in our students,” commented Westminster President Michael Bassis. “The installation of these solar panels is the latest example of our commitment to reduce the impact we have on our environment.”
Last April, President Michael Bassis signed the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment, pledging to find ways to eliminate or offset all campus greenhouse gas emissions.
The campus already supports renewable energy through Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky program in an amount equivalent to 11% of their average monthly usage. Last spring students, faculty, and staff were challenged to support the purchase and development of renewable energy and sign up for Blue Sky. All together, these efforts add up to big emissions savings: about the same as taking over 200 cars off our roads each year or powering more than 40 typical Utah homes (over 1,160 tons of carbon dioxide avoided).
“Westminster College is providing its students and campus community with a daily example of how renewable energy can benefit the environment and contribute to meeting the region’s growing demand for energy in a sustainable way,” said Karen Gilmore, Rocky Mountain Power vice president of customer services. “We are pleased to be able to help make this educational solar project possible, together with our customers who participate in the company’s Blue Sky program.”
The project is also part of Westminster’s ongoing effort to transform the campus itself into a learning tool. The new solar power system and building electricity use will be monitored, and students will be able to access real-time data from the college’s website.
“It is important to see these projects happening on college campuses,” said Kerry Case, Director of Westminster’s Environmental Center. “It offers a chance for students to see classroom concepts enacted in real life.”
Westminster is a nationally recognized, comprehensive liberal arts college distinguished by its unique approach to learning. With a broad array of graduate and undergraduate programs, Westminster prepares students for success with its emphasis on active learning, real world experiences and its vibrant campus community. These are further enriched by the opportunities presented by Westminster’s unique location, adjacent to the Rocky Mountains and to the dynamic city of Salt Lake. For more information visit www.westminstercollege.edu .