MASON CITY, Iowa - A project in the works at NIACC will not only protect the planet, but also school funds.
1 Source Solar of Des Moines is installing a series of solar panels on campus, as part of a $7 million project. The energy collected from the sun will be used to make up close to 60% of the school's electricity use, which could increase, and will save about $950,000 in energy costs yearly upon completion.
President Dr. Steve Schulz says the project has been in the works long before he became school president in 2013.
"As technology improved, it became something that piqued our interest at a high level."
4,696 panels will be installed altogether on the ground around campus, as well as rooftop units.
"As we've done our roof repairs this summer in conjunction with this project, we're using a reflective paper over the top of the roof. All of these panels have dual reflection from the front and back side, so the reflective panels will reflect off the roof to charge the panels as well to get maximum production."
Thanks to a state renewable energy tax credit, the school was able to partner with other groups to construct the panels. After 5 years of production, NIACC plans to purchase the equipment outright. He hopes this can inspire other schools to implement something similar.
"I believe there will be an opportunity down the road for other colleges to duplicate this model. And even under the current structure, it's doable, it's just when you can maximize the tax credits it works for the investors as well as the colleges going forward."
Activation of the panels is planned to be phased in, with completion of the project expected in November, dependant on weather.
NIACC will be the second such school in North Iowa that are implementing a solar field; Luther College in Decorah also has a similar set-up.