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Big Sandy Community and Technical College installed solar panels on the roof of the Johnson Building, with a goal of reducing costs by saving energy.

Big Sandy Community and Technical College is hoping to save costs by saving energy with solar panels.

This summer, the college added a solar photovoltaic system to the oldest building on the Prestonsburg campus, the Johnson Building.

John Herald, dean of information technology and facilities management, reported in an email that the solar project included the installation of 96 commercial solar modules that offer 360 watt each.  The system was designed by CMTA Energy Solutions of Louisville and Solar Energy Solutions of Lexington installed the panels. Herald reported the project cost $70,000 and it is expected to pay for itself in the future.

“The Solar PV system will produce renewable energy for the Johnson Building and will connect to the AEP power grid as a grid-tied PV system,” he wrote in the email. “A net meter will be installed by the utility AEP, which will allow any over-production to flow onto the grid. Any overproduction will be registered by the net meter and as a result, a credit will be given to Big Sandy CTC on their electricity bill.”

He reported that the system does not have batteries because the net meter allows excess production to be “fed” onto the grid. The public will be able to view the output and efficiency of the solar panels online, he reported. The panels are expected to be fully operational in the next two or three months.

“The addition of solar to the Johnson Building will set an  example for the community and students on campus. The students will be given the opportunity to learn about the components of the solar PV system, and see it first hand on one of their buildings,” Herald wrote. “Not only will it serve as a reminder that clean energy is good for the environment, but also that it can be done successfully in Appalachia.”

Herald reported that this solar panel system will offset 33.9 metric tons of carbon annually, reporting that’s equivalent to about 3,819 gallons of gasoline.

Herald reported that CMTA engineers choose the roof of the Johnson Building for this project because the roof faces south and receives “consistent solar exposure throughout the day.”

“The Johnson Building’s standing seam metal roof was an ideal surface to mount the solar PV system,” he wrote. “A non-penetrating standing seam roof clamp was used to attach the rail system to the roof with the final addition of the solar panels once the racking system was set and secured.”

The solar panels come with a 25 year warranty and a “useful life” expectancy of 40 years, Herald reported.

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