Centralia College has received a Centralia Coal Transitions Grant of $189,000 and $151,000 in matching funds from the Department of Commerce to construct a 56-kilowatt solar photovoltaic (PV) system on the roof of the Kirk Library. The grant is from the Centralia Coal Transition Grants Energy Technology Board.
This low-maintenance, roof-mounted system will produce more than 1.5 million kilowatt hours of energy in its 30+ year life. Using Environmental Protection Agency’s CO2 Calculator, the PV system is estimated to save 1,054 metric tons of CO2 from being emitted into the air, which is equivalent to the CO2 from an average car driven 2,863,330 miles.
The PV system, which is manufactured in Washington, will save more than $200,000 during its life and will generate half of the electricity needed for the library.
“This project supports the college’s sustainability goals and will be a point of pride for the college and the community,” said Steve Ward, vice president of administration. “It will also provide an opportunity for learning with the internet-tied monitoring system that allows the public to see the net energy production and consumption of the facility.”
The system, which will incorporate into the college’s energy and science courses, is expected to be installed and operational by the end of June.
The Energy Technology Board was formed as a result of the 2011 Agreement between TransAlta and the state of Washington to transition the Centralia plant away from coal-fired operations with one unit shutting down in December 2020 and the second unit in December 2025.
“The purpose of the Energy Technology Board is to support projects in Washington State that benefit clean energy, air quality or the environment” says Bob Guenther, chairman of the board. “It’s exciting for the board to be able to support this solar project. The project not only reduces emissions, it’s sustainable, lowers energy costs for the college, requires little maintenance and will provide enhanced learning for students.”