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The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine


Solar Panels Expected to Reduce Campus Utility Costs

Solar Panels

UTSA will receive $1.08 million in Department of Energy stimulus funds to install solar panels on two campus buildings and develop a wireless smart grid to monitor the technology’s energy and cost savings in real-time.

The project will be led by technical experts from the College of Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, including professors Brian Kelley, Mo Jamshidi and Hariharan Krishnaswami, as well as undergraduate Gerardo Trevino. Engineers and project managers from the Office of Facilities will support the effort.

Solar panels will be installed on the roofs of the University Center’s recent expansion and the Support Services Building, located on Main Campus. The panels on both buildings are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 273,661 pounds annually, the equivalent of planting 37.2 acres of trees. They are also expected to generate 237 megawatt hours of energy, saving as much as $64,000 per year.

“The introduction of this green technology fits into UTSA’s long-term energy plan by reducing annual utility costs and providing a renewable source of electricity to power UTSA facilities, thereby saving scarce operating funds for other important purposes,” said Dave Riker, associate vice president for facilities.

CPS Energy is also participating in the solar initiative. To create opportunities for UTSA students to work on the project, it has pledged $127,720 from its solar rebate program for student scholarships.

The solar energy grant is one of four that will enable solar panel installations in San Antonio. The City of San Antonio, St. Philip’s College and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio also received funding for solar initiatives.

“This is a big step forward for sustainability in San Antonio,” said Mayor Julián Castro. “With these grants, we will multiply our solar energy production by several times as well as make real the value of renewable sources of energy to the community.”

Officials expect the solar energy systems will be in operation by the end of next year.

—Christi Fish

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