By Sarah Kohlbeck
Madison College has been awarded the 2020 Green Power Leadership Award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This program recognizes EPA Green Power Partners that set a precedent in sustainability by using a variety of financing structures to access renewable energy-based green power.
EPA’s Green Power Partnership is a volunteer program that aims to increase green power usage in the U.S as a way to reduce air pollution and other environmental impacts of electricity usage.
Madison College’s Truax campus located on Wright Street generates almost 2.4 million kilowatt hours of green energy annually through its solar power system. This provides about 25% of the college’s electricity use, which is roughly equivalent to the amount of energy consumed by 300 homes annually.
The college installed its first solar photovoltaic system in 2002. The original system was 1.2 kiloWatts. By comparison, the new system located at Madison College’s Truax campus is 1,850 kiloWatts, making it the largest rooftop solar installation in Wisconsin. During this same timespan, the cost of solar technology dropped by more than 90%.
Ken Walz, Madison College’s science and engineering instructor and Renewable Energy Program Director, said, "By constructing solar installations on our campus facilities the college is improving our environmental footprint, while also preparing students for careers in the fast-growing field of renewable energy technology. We are committed to generate even more green power in the years ahead and remain eager to expand on our work with the renewable energy industry."
Madison College has taken the opportunity to use their solar power system not only to provide environmental and financial benefits, but educational benefits as well. Students in multiple courses of study are able to gather and analyze data from the solar power system to learn more about sustainable practices as well as further their knowledge in courses such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
A portion of the PV system is designed as an instructional laboratory that can be de-energized and electrically isolated from the main building. This provides students with a safe work environment where they can learn hands-on solar installation, commissioning, operations, and maintenance skills.
The college has also provided an interpretive display and an observation deck for campus visitors, prospective students, and community members to learn more about solar power.
An in depth virtual tour of the solar power system is available here.
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