Solar project starts small

November 17, 2011

On Tuesday, Georgetown Energy student leaders met with administrators to discuss whether the group’s solar panels project would be rolled out to University townhouses all at once or would start with a smaller pilot project.

Ultimately, it was decided that the project would begin on a smaller scale, putting solar panels on eight to ten townhouses. According to David Nulsen (SFS ’12), project leader for the solar panels, stability of the townhouse roofs is a big concern.

The facilities department “simply does not have a plan or the financial means to replace roofs en masse,” Nulsen wrote in an e-mail. “They replace the roofs as needed year by year, and do not have the money to do the type of roof repairs needed to bring the roofs to a standard needed for panels.”

The project will begin on a smaller scale but will still receive the same amount of funding, about $168,000, that it was originally scheduled for. According to Nulsen, any extra money will probably be used for future solar installations or other projects. Still, more details need to be ironed out before the project is ready to go.
“There are a lot of little things we need to keep working towards: finding a vendor [and] getting a neighborhood permit. Once we clear these hurdles, we’ll be ready to go,” Nulsen wrote.

At this point, a student referendum has been pushed back from early December to January. The referendum will allow students to have the opportunity to vote for or against the solar panel implementation. If all goes according to plan, the leaders expect to begin construction of the solar panels at the beginning of the summer, once students have moved out.

Nulsen said that he and others involved in the project had been meeting with employees of Vice President of Facilities and Student Housing Karen Frank throughout the summer and fall. Frank made the ultimate decision to begin the project on a smaller scale.

“While we are working very closely with student representatives of Georgetown Energy and GUSA in reviewing and evaluating the components of their proposal, the administration is supporting their efforts, not leading them,” wrote Frank in an email. “We welcome the collaboration to help advance the campus’ environmental efforts and reduce our carbon footprint.”


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