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Local

Joliet Junior College adds solar array to save on energy costs

Joliet Junior College is seen July 5, 2018, in Joliet.
Joliet Junior College is seen July 5, 2018, in Joliet.

Joliet Junior College is adding a solar array at its main campus to help save on energy costs, increase sustainability efforts and encourage future academic opportunities.

The JJC Board of Trustees approved the contract at a Dec. 12 meeting with Pivot Energy to install a 1.37-megawatt array according to a news release. There will be no out-of-pocket costs to JJC, which will initially pay a fixed discounted rate for the energy generated and take ownership of the panels after 10 years.

“This solar installation just continues JJC’s long standing commitment to faculty, students, and staff in reducing energy costs to remain an affordable, quality institution,” Pat Van Duyne, director of facility services, said in the news release.

The college has a history of sustainability initiatives dating back to the 1970s, after the college moved to what is now the main campus, when it implemented an Energy Savings Plan.

Since 2000, JJC has completed more than 50 sustainability projects such as multiple LEED-certified buildings.

Pivot Energy partnered with Joliet oncologist and philanthropist Sarode Pundaleeka to finance the solar array. Pundaleeka will donate the panels to JJC after 10 years, which will produce additional savings for the college. During its lifespan, the solar array is projected to save more than $1.1 million.

Pundaleeka hopes some of the savings will go toward preparing students for careers in clean energy and enable future research. JJC Dean of Technical and Career Education Patty Zuccarello said this also is an exciting time for renewable energy technology. Pivot energy plans to plant a pollinator forage around the panels to support habitats for bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

The panels will be installed in the spring on a 7-acre plot north of Centennial Drive.

“Dr. Pundaleeka’s generous donation of this solar array will provide an on-campus learning tool for students that complements our existing sustainable installations,” Zuccarello said in the news release.

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