College announces plans for Truax solar energy system

Madison College will add $1.8 million to a grant from Madison Gas and Electric to build a 1,400-kilowatt solar photovoltaic (PV) system on top of the main Truax Campus building. The system could save the campus more than $200,000 per year in electricity costs.

“Once installed, our system will be the largest rooftop PV system in Wisconsin,” said Ken Walz, chemistry and engineering instructor and director of the Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education. “On a sunny day, the system will reduce the college’s peak electric load by about 50 percent. Averaged over an entire year, it will offset about 10 to 15 percent of the college’s total electric consumption.”

MGE and the college expect to announce the selection of a solar developer in August. System design and acquisition of equipment will follow. The college plans to involve students in the installation beginning in summer 2018. It should take a few months to complete the project.

Madison College is one of three colleges behind the Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education (CREATE).

CREATE works to advance renewable energy education by supporting two-year college renewable energy programs. The college has received multiple grants from the National Science Foundation to develop curriculum, create new educational programs and train faculty and students throughout the country in renewable energy.

Implementation of this project will save energy and reduce airborne emissions for local residents.

Accessible instructional space on the roof of the Truax Campus will allow renewable energy students to conduct periodic inspections of the system to check for signs of wear, weathering and maintenance needs. Students enrolled in related fields such as electrical apprentice, electronics, electrical engineering, industrial maintenance and architecture will also benefit from having access to the PV installation.

Published June 7, 2017. Updated June 9, 2017.