Luther College to complete solar project with array powering commons building

By the end of the month, Luther's Baker Village commons building will have its own working solar array, completing the installation of a solar photovoltaic project and marking the end of a $750,000 Department of Energy award in support of the college's plan to cut its carbon footprint in half by 2015.

The DOE funding has helped finance three campus projects, the Shirley Baker Commons solar array among them.

The Baker Commons building serves as a gathering space for students and college guests and includes a main lounge, bathrooms, a staging kitchen and laundry facilities for students living in the adjacent Baker Village townhouses, which accommodate more than 100 students. The four townhouses are powered by a 280-kilowatt array situated on the north end of campus. Installation of the 20-kW PV array that will power the commons building began mid May and will consist of solar panels on two 68-foot-long, pier-mounted racks south and west of the building, with power lines running underground.

The panels, rated at 240 watts apiece, were manufactured by SolarWorld USA. Werner Electric provided the final design and Perry Novak Electric is installing the system. The total cost for the new array is estimated at $86,000, with Luther matching $43,000 of DOE funds with $43,000 in funds recently donated to the college for renewable energy projects. If the system is deemed eligible and approved, Luther may defray a portion of the donated funds with a rebate of up to $20,000 from Alliant Energy.

The project that accounts for the lion's share of the DOE award money was the renovation and improvement of Miller and Dieseth Halls, which house about a third of Luther's students. DOE funds were used to install water-efficient flush toilets; improve the efficiency of the HVAC system; and install energy-efficient windows, including window treatments that better regulate solar gain.

The DOE award also allowed the college to establish an energy and waste steward position. This two-year appointment, which concludes at the end of May 2013, coordinated Luther's recycling and water-management programs and implemented the college's Energy Conservation Program, which was adopted in spring 2010 with the goal of reducing energy consumption two percent per year through behavior change.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,500, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the bachelor of arts degree in 60 majors and preprofessional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website:

Solar array at Shirley Baker Commons.