Solar energy powers UVM

? The Clean Energy Fund (CEF) will install renewable energy solar panels at the UVM Miller Equine Farm on the roof of the Miller Equine Center on Spear Street. ? Designed to advance renewable energy research, education and infrastructure on campus, the Clean Energy Fund is sustained by a self-imposed student fee of $10 a semester, per-student, according to the UVM website. ? Installation of the panels will begin shortly after the Spring 2012 commencement in May. It is predicted to take roughly 2-3 weeks to complete, finishing well before the start of fall semester, said Michelle Smith, Green Building program coordinator. ? The power generated will be “net metered” which means it will be sent directly into the electricity grid, Smith said. ? It will be sub-metered first so UVM knows how much electricity the panels are generating, she said.  ? Vermont Solar Engineering will be able to install 134 solar panels through the help of the Vermont Small Scale Renewable Energy Incentive Program, Smith said. ? The program granted the University $55,740, which has allowed UVM to double the amount of solar panels and save nearly $4,000, she said. ? The program also offers some compensation for renewable energy systems installed by Vermont Solar & Wind Partnership Program, according to the Vermont Department of Public Service. ? “Since CEF is student funded and went through SGA, we want students to get involved in what they’re paying for,” Smith said. “They can learn about the process first-hand concerning permits, zoning and building analyses.” ? Smith said that because UVM was already able to accomplish the expansion they had envisioned for the Miller Equine Center in this first attempt, there are no definite plans to install future renewable energy systems. ? Still, the CEF is looking ahead to try and make future renewable energy projects not only possible, but also easier. ? The CEF has started a study in which a hired consultant will assess and analyze other potential areas on campus for the installation of renewable energy mechanisms, Smith said. ? These mechanisms will not be limited to solar panels, but may also include solar thermals, wind turbines and biomass. ? The recommendations from this consultant will most likely lead to future proposals and future projects around campus, she said. ? “Many people don’t believe that renewable energy is possible in Vermont, but it is,” Smith said. “It’s really great that this small scale renewable incentive fund is available.” ? Students who are interested in marketing, media or renewable energy will have the opportunity to work with Vermont Solar & Wind Partnership Program and the Clean Energy Fund during the installation. ? “I think it’s an interesting idea,” first-year Jonah Cantor said. “It’s a good start for a school that prides itself on green living.” ? Students who want to get involved are welcome to email the Clean Energy Fund at [email protected]