Solar power plans move forward

Katy Brown

It will not be long before you start to see changes to the Kent State Field House. As part of President Lefton’s Sustainability Project, the university plans to add solar power panels to the field house.

“The field house solar power project is an electric solar power project,” Bob Misbrener, university architect project manager, said, “[and it will produce] a sustainable amount of energy, about 5,000 kilowatt-hours…a year.”

But the new system will not be producing power for just the field house; it will also supply some power to Dix Stadium as well. Both facilities are hooked up to the same main electrical feed, and as Misbrener said, “whoever needs [power], it flows that way.”

For this project, Kent State chose a company with Ohio roots. Third Sun Solar, based in Athens, will take the lead on the field house solar panels.

“They’ve done…300 or so school, university, and college projects already, varying in size,” said Misbrener, “and ours is a pretty large size…approaching one half megawatt of capacity.”

This is not the first step Kent State has taken towards energy conservation. During the summer, new windows were installed in residence halls. Misbrener said just the installation of new windows created a noticeable energy savings, which will only increase alongside the new solar panel power.

“[Installing the windows] was the first step, lowering energy,” Misbrener said, “and meeting that with clean energy is a good one-two punch.”

It is also a good savings initiative when it comes to both energy and money. With both the windows and solar panels, Misbrener predicted a $2.7 million annual savings.

But plans do not stop there. After the field house, Kent State plans to further the solar power to three more sites: the Michael Schwartz Center, the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, and the MAC.

Misbrener said those three additional projects would be put into action after the field house is completed and running.

“[We are] making sure that [the field house project] works smoothly and see how it goes,” Misbrener said, “then it will be 2012 and beyond that we do the other sites.”