Solar Panels Installed on Townhouses
Published: Monday, January 7, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 7, 2013 18:01
SolarCity will finish installing solar panels on seven university-owned townhouses by Jan. 7, completing a months-long collaboration between the Social Innovation Public Service Fund, Georgetown Energy and the university.
In addition to installing solar panels, the project also involved upgrading electrical systems of these townhouses to handle higher voltage and installing meters to measure energy savings. Installing the panels was the last phase of the project and will allow students to begin monitoring energy savings this semester.
Funding for the project was allocated through the 2010 Student Activities Fee Endowment, which included $250,000 for a Green Revolving Loan Fund. The original proposal suggested installing solar panels on the 43 south-facing university-owned townhouses but was modified when it was found that only seven townhouses currently have roofs capable of supporting solar energy. This project used approximately $50,000 of the $250,000.
According to Georgetown Energy project manager Dan Mathis (SFS ’13), the biggest challenge in this process was communication between the university and solar companies.
“Coordinating with the university runs on a pretty strict payback period, with everything written down strictly in contracts,” Mathis said. “Solar companies working with renewables are not as concrete as students and the university wanted them to be.”
SIPS Managing Director Tyler Sax (COL ’13), who was involved in SAFE reform, was pleased to see the project come to fruition.
“I’m very happy it’s finally getting done. We learned a lot through the process about how long it takes … and we had to scale it back, which was frustrating, but in the end we got it done.”
Sax said that the success of this project could influence other green initiatives, including a SIPS proposal to create a sustainable farm on top of O’Donovan Hall.
“It’s a good pilot project for future student projects, and it shows what we have to go through to make something like this easier in the future.”
The monetary savings from solar energy will be put toward student use but will not decrease housing costs for students living in solar-powered townhouses.