Solar panel installation to conserve energy complete

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Physical Plant Management has completed installation of a new solar power panel system that will be used primarily to help conserve energy during peak usage in the summer months.

CSUN will celebrate the installation of this new solar system today as part of the university’s Earth Day festivities.

The new system, installed five weeks ago, consists of 2,832 individual solar panels. The new 165-watt solar panels are located on parking overhangs that shade faculty spaces near Nordhoff Street and Darby Avenue.

“It’s electricity in the form of photons,” said Thomas Brown, director of PPM.

The solar panels absorb energy from the sun, and the system converts the sun’s energy into electricity that can be used to power different parts of the university.

According to Brown, the new project costs about twice as much as CSUN’s first solar system, because the new one is twice the size. The first system, which has been in place for two years, cost $1.7 million to construct, while the new system cost $3.4 million to install. The first system uses more than 3,000 individual 75-watt panels in parking lot E6.

The new project, which PPM contributed $1.7 million toward, was developed by PPM in partnership with the Southern California Gas Company and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Those funds originated from rebate money that PPM received from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Southern California Gas Company from the first project.

The university will also receive another $2.1 million from the LADWP and the SCGC, which will be presented during the new system’s installation ceremony.

“(The utility companies) have goals to do the right thing and support this development,” Brown said.

According to Brown, solar power technology is something more people in the energy industry should be pushing for, as natural resources are being used up.

“I think it benefits all of us,” said Charles Allen, urban studies professor. “We need more technology like this to not rely on fossil fuels”.

“I think it’s good for the environment,” said Jessica Dhas, senior history major.

Dhas said the system’s installation shows the school has good intentions for the environment.

These two projects have also gained support from other organizations, including the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We support (technology) that benefits the public without severely affecting the environment,” said Francisco Arcaute, spokesperson for the EPA.

The advantage is that the solar system provides a renewable energy source and has a minimal environmental impact, Arcaute said.

Another advantage of the system is that it is financially viable, Brown said.

“(The materials used) are guaranteed for 25 years without (needing) maintenance,” he said. The new system, along with the first, is expected to save the school about $140,000 a year in energy costs.

“It was a good financial investment,” Brown said.

“It’s a good stewardship (to encourage this kind of project),” said Susan Arvanitis, energy and utilities coordinator for PPM. “We’re always looking for new and different ways to save energy.”