Luther's current solar energy complex (Photo by decorahnews.com's Paul Scott)
Luther College Center for Sustainable Communities Director Jim Martin-Schramm says it's likely construction will begin next year on an expansion of the current solar energy project on Pole Line Road. In addition to installing additional solar panels, the project would create a battery facility to store the generated electricity.
Martin-Schramm explains that larger electric users like Luther College get charged electricity rates based on the "demand charge"--the highest amount of electricity consumed at any one time. That gives Luther and similar customers an incentive to reduce peak loads, which is where the battery storage plant comes in.
Martin-Schramm also says next year's project will help Luther reach its goal of zero emissions by 2030. Right now it has reduced 45 percent of its emissions since the 2004 school year.