Section: News

Proposed solar panel plan sees light of day

A Kenyon student and Columbus-based energy company are looking to install a 3.7-acre solar panel project in Gambier.

During this past Monday’s Village Council meeting, Zach Sawicki ’16 and Joseph Recchie P’16, of Community Renewable Energy, presented a plan to provide the Village with electricity for its water treatment facility.

Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman explained the plan grew out of the College’s larger effort to promote solar energy through an independent study, the first of which has been implementing a solar system at the Kenyon Farm.

“What we are looking at is trying to identify probably one project a year somewhere in the Village, probably on one of our smaller buildings, that will have a full-blown solar project and this course parallel with it, where students will work with a faculty member and the solar company,” Kohlman told the Council.

Kohlman credited Jerry Kelly, partner of the Village Inn, who led communications for an Athens-based solar company, with designing an independent study for four students. One of those students is Sawicki, who interned with Recchie in Columbus.

“I suggested a proposed solar energy project somewhat large-scale … that would feed into Kenyon’s energy grid,” Sawicki told the Council.

Sawicki studied the parcel beneath the Village’s wastewater treatment facility and determined it might be an ideal location to provide energy. Kohlman and Recchie explained that while the Kenyon Athletic Center was considered a possible receiver of energy, it is too far from the facility to be cost-effective.

A project to install solar panels on the roof of Farr Hall fell through last year when state grants didn’t materialize, Kohlman said.

The solar project for the wastewater plant is estimated at just under $2 million, most of which will come from federal grants, Recchie said, with no cost to the Village.

Council was interested in exploring the issue further, and its Streets and Utilities Committee will take the matter up at its meeting on Monday at 6 p.m. in the Gambier Community Center.

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