Colorado State University to get more solar panels

Solar panels sit on the Engineering building at Colorado State University. Solar panel additions are common on other buildings throughout the campus.(Photo credit: Megan Fischer)

The rooftops of several on-campus buildings will soon be home to 1,100 kilowatts of pure solar energy.

Colorado State University, Fort Collins Utilities and Namaste Solar — a commercial solar service company based in Boulder — are collaborating on the construction of solar panels on the roofs of CSU’s Student Recreation Center; Veterinary Teaching Hospital; Braiden, Parmalee and Corbett residence halls and the Durrell Center.

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“We chose the buildings that have received new roofs in the past few years,” said Carol Dollard, CSU’s utility engineer. “It’s an opportunity to expand the amount of solar energy produced by the University.”

Fort Collins Utilities selected and approved the project proposal as part of its pilot project, the Solar Power Purchase program, or SP3. Combined with the solar energy from the 15 acre solar field on CSU’s Foothills Campus, these new solar panels will bring CSU’s total solar energy production up to 6,600 kilowatts. With that, CSU can produce enough solar energy to power the equivalent of 1,200 homes.

The energy from the panels will not only feed several buildings on campus, but will also provide energy to the Fort Collins community.

“Initially, it’ll probably cost a lot, but in the long run it could save CSU a lot of money, and it’s obviously better for the environment,” said Kally Johnson, a sophomore economics major.

The proposal was approved late this summer, setting the construction deadline as June of next year.

“There’s going to be even more construction on campus now,” Dollard said. “Students may ask why we don’t just wait until school is out, and it’s because we’re under an extreme deadline.”

Braiden Hall will be the first to receive the panels in the fall, and construction of panels on the other buildings will begin at the start of the spring semester.

“A few years ago there were only a handful of solar panel projects in Fort Collins,” said Norm Weaver, senior energy engineer at Fort Collins Utilities. “Now there are several hundred projects, and each new project adds a lot to the growth of solar power in Fort Collins.”

Collegian Reporter Rick Cookson can be reached at news@collegian.com.