ashland.news
June 22, 2024

SOU to receive $1 million to fund solar power on campus

SOU president Rick Bailey and SOU Sustainability Director Becs Walker check out solar panels on the college's campus. SOU photo
June 4, 2023

The university received $2 million for similar endeavors in December

Southern Oregon University will receive $1 million from the Oregon Department of Energy to add additional solar power infrastructure to its campus, according to a university news release.

The funds come from ODE’s Community Renewable Energy Grant program, created by the state legislature in 2021. The program set aside $50 million for renewable energy projects over the next three years.

This year, department officials awarded a total of $12 million in funds to 39 recipients across the the state, including indigenous tribes, public entities, and consumer-owned utilities, the release said. The grant will help pay for the university’s first parking lot solar array, which will include solar panels built on steel structures, utilized for shade and power generation, in a lot near the Hawk Dining Commons. Funds will also pay for eight electric vehicle charging ports, which will raise the university’s total number of ports to 20, the release said.

The announcement comes on the heels of a similar announcement back in December, where SOU received a $2 million federal appropriation to help pay for additional solar arrays on university parking lots and rooftops.

Similar grant funds awarded last year will be combined with federal funds and a contribution from the Student Green Fund to pay for solar installations on the Hawk Dining Commons and the Lithia Motors Pavilion/Student Recreation Center complex, along with a battery storage facility.

The moves are expected to save SOU $700,000 annually on utility costs. The current solar projects will increase SOU’s generating capacity to about 16 percent of the electricity it uses on campus.

“Our momentum toward energy independence is very exciting and will be a game-changer for our
university,” SOU Sustainability Director Becs Walker said. “We plan to be producing all of our own
electricity within about 10 years, and ultimately to become a carbon net-zero campus. This progress demonstrates our leadership in sustainability and the transition of the energy infrastructure.”

The university currently has nine solar arrays on its Ashland campus, plus an array at the Higher Education Center in Medford and a pole-mounted array installed by a nonprofit on land leased from SOU.

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