Over 70 NOLS personnel and invited guests attended the dedication of a new solar array on the rooftop of the school’s International Headquarters Building. (Ernie Over photo)
(Lander, Wyo.) – The biggest laugh at Thursday’s dedication of 90 solar panels on the roof of the National Outdoor Leadership School’s International Headquarters building came from Creative Energies’ Scott Kane, the solar contractor for the project. “NOLS is rapidly running out of roof space,” he said.
The most recent solar panel installation is the fourth for the international outdoor leadership school in Lander. Other solar arrays are located at the Rocky Mountain Branch at Fifth and Lincoln, the Noble Building on Main Street and at the Weiss Wilderness Medicine Campus in Red Canyon.
“This installation helps advance our goals of sustainability,” NOLS Executive Director John Gans told about 75 rooftop guests Thursday afternoon. “and moving resources away from our power bill into our educational programs.”
The project was funded 80 percent by Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Skies Initiative. “This is deja vu all over again, as Yoggi Berra once said. We are pleased with our customers who want to be involved in the cause of renewable energy and their willingness to pay a bit more,” said Larry Elcock, Rocky Mountain Power’s local manager. He said customers who sign up for the Blue Skies program make extra dollars available for investment in projects like this one.”
Elcock had particular praise for Lander customers of Rocky Mountain Power. He said three percent of the firm’s customers had signed up to participate in Blue Skies, but in Lander that percentage was 5.5 percent. “That represents 252 residences and 12 businesses,” he said, “the fourth best in Wyoming.”
Kane said the solar panel array is set at a 20 percent tilt angle which is maximized for summer energy production when the energy consumption is greatest. The 90 panels would produce 23.4 kilowatts a day, or 36,500 kw in a year. Due to the size of the NOLS Headquarters, Kane said the solar energy would only produce about 10 percent of the building’s total power needs. “But at NOLS Rocky Mountain, the solar panels there produce 56 percent of energy used. At the Weiss Campus, solar provides 21 percent,” he said.
The ceremony was planned to coincide with the annual meeting of the NOLS Board of Directors and the semi-annual gathering of the nine NOLS Branch Directors from around the world.
Photos by Ernie Over. Click to enlarge.