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New solar power plant will provide 10 percent of Luther's yearly electricity

Posted: Tue, May 19, 2020 3:33 PM

More details are now available about the large solar panel project which will provide Luther College with ten percent of its electricity when operational.

Luther Center for Sustainable Communities Director Jim Martin-Schramm spoke by video conference to two dozen people Tuesday in a talk sponsored by the Winneshiek Energy District.

The new solar array is being built by a group of local investors called Nova Properties, LLC.  It will be located next to previous solar arrays being used by Luther.  Perry Novak Electric is installing the solar panels.

Martin-Schramm says Luther has been doing a good job of aiming to reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent and becoming carbon neutral by the year 2030.  But even with it now being halfway to its goal, electricity costs keep rising for the college--especially the costs of using electricity at times of peak demand. As a result, the new project will also include a battery storage unit and an associated battery storage solution.

This initiative will more than double the amount of solar energy fed to the Luther campus. Says Martin-Schramm, "It will help the college reduce campus operating costs while also reducing Luther's carbon footprint."  He adds that "this public-private partnership to develop more renewable energy will recycle energy dollars in the local economy and is consistent with the mission of the Winneshiek Energy District and Luther College."

The project is expected to cost the local investors around $2.4 million.  Luther has signed a contract with the local group to accept the electricity from the project for the next ten years.  It's projected the installment will generate around 1.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity yearly.  The initiative is expected to be up and operational within the next six months.