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SOU Solar Power Industry

Outlook is sunny for solar at SOU

NEWS RELEASE
(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s solar power prospects will become considerably brighter this fall, with the installations of three new photovoltaic arrays and a 57 percent increase in generating capacity.

“It’s a unique and thrilling opportunity to have three solar arrays being installed this year, furthering SOU’s commitment to implementing sustainable solutions,” said Roxane Beigel-Coryell, SOU’s sustainability and recycling coordinator. “Increasing the university’s solar energy resources is a crucial step to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support Ashland’s renewable energy generation goals.”

Expanding solar energy production on campus is one of the many strategies SOU is pursuing to reduce its environmental impacts and build a better university for the future. The university is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

After this fall’s solar projects are completed, SOU will have eight arrays on seven buildings with total capacity of 391.45 kilowatts. The anticipated solar energy generation will increase 57 percent to 535,665 kilowatt hours per year, from the current 340,700 kilowatt hours.

The first new solar installation is scheduled to take place on Thursday, when 68 photovoltaic panels are placed on the new Student Recreation Center’s storage building. The array, funded by the SRC and the university’s Outdoor Adventure Leadership Program, will have a 23.8 kilowatt capacity. Its output will be fed back into the electrical grid and credited to SOU’s accounts, reducing the university’s utility bills.

Next up will be a 180-panel installation on the Student Recreation Center, which is expected to start Oct. 1 and wrap up in November. That array, with a 63 kilowatt capacity, is funded by the combined SRC and Lithia Motors Pavilion construction project. The power it produces will be fed directly into the SRC, reducing the building’s utility bills.

The third project will be at the university’s Hannon Library, where 159 panels with a generating capacity of 55.65 kilowatts will be installed in the late fall and early winter. That array will be funded by the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University’s Green Fund, and the student government organization will be paid by the university for the electrical power that will be fed directly into the library.

“The solar (array) being installed on the library is especially exciting because it’s made possible through a unique funding model proposed by SOU students,” Beigel-Coryell said. “This project, funded by SOU students, will provide the university with more renewable energy generation while providing the student Green Fund with revenue each year to fund more sustainable projects on campus.

“We haven’t seen this particular funding structure used on any campuses yet and we hope to serve as a model for other schools to leverage available resources to implement renewable energy projects and provide revenue for sustainable solutions.”

SOU’s first solar installation was a 24-panel, 6 kilowatt array that was placed on Hannon Library in 2000 and it still generating electricity at 70 to 80 percent efficiency. The university also has arrays on the Higher Education Center in Medford (56 kilowatts), the Stevenson Union (31.59 kilowatts), and the McLoughlin (73.7 kilowatts) and Shasta (82.5 kilowatts) residence halls.

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Student project keeps SOU at the forefront of U.S. water conservation


NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/eQLLBn)
(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University, which in 2012 became the first university in the nation to balance 100 percent of its water consumption, has renewed its five-year contract to offset the campus water footprint by supporting waterway restoration in Oregon.

ASSOU has completed a five-year contract for water restoration on Sevenmile Creek (BEF photo)


The project is student-led and will be funded over the next five years by $100,000 annually from a “Green Fund” tax – currently $13 per student, each term – that SOU students have imposed on themselves since 2007. The Green Fund also pays for several other sustainability projects on campus.
Water Restoration Certificates purchased by the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University will pay for a ground-breaking piping and flow-restoration project over the next five years, primarily on Whychus Creek near Bend. The project will restore stream flow and fish and wildlife habitat, conserve millions of gallons of water, make more water available for irrigators and prevent the loss of fish in irrigation withdrawals by using state-of-the-art fish screens.
“The Whychus Creek water project is a fantastic opportunity to offset our campus’ water usage while restoring wildlife habitat and streamflow to a river in our community,” said Lindsay Swanson, who serves on ASSOU’s Environmental Affairs Committee. “As a student at SOU, I am proud of this university’s commitment to sustainable water usage.”
SOU students initially offset all of the university’s water usage in 2012 by purchasing Water Restoration Certificates to fund a five-year project on Seven Mile Creek in the Klamath River Basin.  That project has been completed, so students looked at a variety of options before choosing the Bend-area project to continue balancing SOU’s water footprint – and remain one of the few universities in the nation to do so.
The Environmental Affairs Committee considered using the Green Fund on renewable energy projects or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education training before voting to continue supporting water restoration.
“Heading into the next century, conservation of water resources will only become more and more important,” Swanson said. “As a university, it is our responsibility to recognize and mitigate the impact our campus has on the world around us, especially in regard to resource use.”
SOU’s student government works with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to purchase Water Restoration Certificates and identify projects to support. The non-profit BEF – which partners with the Bonneville Power Administration but operates independently – markets green power products to government agencies, businesses, utilities and others.
After adopting the Green Fund tax in 2007, SOU students were among the first in the nation to offset all of their university’s energy use by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates that supported North Dakota wind farms. After that initial five-year contract expired, SOU shifted to water restoration projects, in part to support environmental change closer to home.
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About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University is a medium-sized campus that provides comprehensive educational opportunities with a strong focus on student success and intellectual creativity. Located in vibrant Ashland, Oregon, SOU remains committed to diversity and inclusion for all students on its environmentally sustainable campus. Connected learning programs taught by a host of exceptional faculty provide quality, innovative experiences for students. Visit sou.edu.