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SPC Solar Arrays Help…

St. Philip's College Solar Arrays help Alamo Colleges District surpass $20.06 million utility savings mark
SPC Solar Panels at Southwest Campus

SPC Solar Arrays Help Alamo Colleges District

Two seven-year-old St. Philip's College solar power arrays that include the city’s largest non-commercial rooftop solar installation have helped Alamo Colleges District surpass the $20.06 million utility savings mark in a 15-year-old sustainability initiative.

In 2002, Alamo Colleges District adopted building services systems methods known as Continuous Commissioning (CC) in partnership with the Energy Systems Laboratory division of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station at Texas A&M University. Fifteen years later, cumulative Alamo Colleges District energy savings under the CC partnership reached $20.06 million in February. Halfway between 2002 and 2017, the largest non-commercial rooftop solar installation in San Antonio was installed on a 1940's era shopping mall-sized building on the college’s Southwest Campus at 800 Quintana Road. The array was funded in 2010 by a $2 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant through the U.S. Department of Energy and demonstrates the feasibility of producing electricity via renewable technologies in decentralized locations.

The college’s 400-kilowatt grid-tied array is known as the Green Energy Campus Demonstration Project. The array has doubled as a student training aid. Some alumni who trained on the array are earning in excess of $100,000 annually, according to Craig Overmiller, the college's Power Generation and Alternative Energy program director. While gifts of $25,000 (2016) and $50,000 (2015) towards scholarships for alternative energy students at the college were made by OCI Solar Power and CPS Energy, a Student Awareness and Pathways for Alternative Energy grant for $82,000 (2014) was awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

In 2016, Alamo Colleges District leadership recognized the college for earning Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partnership status as a result of owning the 2,315 panel solar array that produced significant renewable energy credits during the agency's July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016 award and recognition reporting period. The federally-funded array produces more than 500,000 kilowatt-hours of green power annually, representing more than 10 percent of electricity used daily at the college's Southwest Campus. The solar panel installation at the SPC Southwest Campus is also the largest customer-owned solar array in the CPS Energy portfolio. That array is supplemented by a federally funded 255-kilowatt array the college has used to achieve similar strategic student success, operational and sustainability goals and managed by students. As a result of using federally-funded green power, the students and other EPA Green Power Partnership organizations support the development of new renewable generation capacity nationwide while also helping to protect the environment. The more than 1,300 EPA Green Power Partnership members are collectively using more than 30 billion kilowatt-hours of green power annually, equivalent to the electricity use of more than three-million average American homes. The array is also used to train service members from the Joint Base San Antonio area as part of the federal SunShot Initiative's Solar Ready Vets training program that serves GIs at 10 bases nationwide, with a six-week training session underway through Aug. 4.

Texas A&M announced online July 12 that as a result of the cumulative Alamo Colleges District energy savings reaching $20.06 million in 2017 via their guidelines, their lab team earned a non-monetary $20 million Savings Recognition Award from Alamo Colleges District. According to the July 12 report Energy Systems Lab receives $20 million Savings Recognition Award, "In 2002, the Alamo Colleges District started the implementation of the CC® processes at three of the largest campuses (San Antonio College, St. Philip’s College and Palo Alto College)... upgrading control systems, participating in demand-response programs, introducing thermal energy storage systems, installing 600 kilowatts of generation capacity in solar panels and implementing the four-day work week initiative during the summer.". Read the report at