LLCC-Jacksonville Going Solar

By Benjamin Cox on July 31, 2019 at 7:19pm

A local college is going solar. Lincoln Land Community College in Jacksonville has announced it is going to be installing solar panels to help offset the school’s electrical consumption. Installation of the panels are set to begin in Jacksonville on August 5th. WindSolarUSA and Senergy Electric are expected to install a 156.4 kW system with 434 modules on the roof at the location. The work is scheduled to be complete by mid-September.

Tim Ervin, LLCC director of construction and environmental health and safety reveals why the college decided to go with solar. “We had an opportunity at both the facility there in Jacksonville and two buildings in Litchfield to put some solar panels up on our roofs. We’re able to do that because both are serviced by Ameren on those buildings. That’s why we started there. It allowed us to enter into an agreement with the Illinois Power Agency to possibly receive some renewable energy credits to those two sites. We prioritized that installation because we thought it would be the biggest bang for our bucks, so to speak. Also, it’s a way to continue to promote and push the college’s sustainability goals to be greener and be more efficient wherever we can be. It was 2 good opportunities and projects to undertake.”

The solar installations will have module-level monitoring, allowing for real-time observation of each solar panel’s performance for maintenance and use as an educational tool in classrooms. LLCC’s solar installations are part of the Illinois Power Agency’s Adjustable Block Program, a state program providing incentives for solar photovoltaic systems. Illinois has committed to produce 25 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2025. The renewable energy credits provided back to the grid by the solar panels LLCC is hosting will help the state meet its renewable energy requirement.

Ervin said that saving money and Jacksonville’s building just made sense for this project. “The two solar energy companies approached us about how we could go about how to save some energy for the college in general. Of course, that turns around to the taxpayers, too. We obviously get a lot of our money that comes into the college that comes from taxpayers and so if we can find a way to save folks in the district money and save the college money, it would be a great idea. We started to investigate where we should start and where our money was best spent. Given the renewable energy credits, there’s a lot of things involved, too, about the solar panels need to be south facing because of the way of the sun’s orientation and certain buildings perform better than others. In Jacksonville, the building has a large, flat roof with not very much on it and so the location made sense. With all of those factors playing together, we can expend those initial costs with the system in Jacksonville paying for itself in about 15 and a half years on average. For long-term building owners like we are, it made sense to start where we would get energy credits and have the square footage on the roof and the building orientation was the right way and receive payback for it all in a short amount of time.”

The solar panels are expected to offset 75 percent of LLCC’s electrical consumption at the Jacksonville campus. Irvin said that the carbon footprint of the college would be lowered by nearly 159 tons.