Photo courtesy WVWC Press Office

West Virginia Wesleyan College dedicates new solar array

BUCKHANNON, WEST VIRGINIA – Together with state and local officials, West Virginia Wesleyan College and Pickering Energy Solutions dedicated a new solar array Wednesday, May 11 that is expected to provide about 11 percent of power to the campus.

Pickering Energy Solutions, led by Charles Pickering ’78, Ph.D., developed the project and will sell the produced power to WVWC on a power purchase agreement.

Previous projects Pickering Energy Solutions has developed on WVWC’s campus include solar panels on the roof of Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library and a 60 kW solar installation on a carport structure adjacent to the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts which supports four electric vehicle charging stations.

Dr. James Moore, interim president of West Virginia Wesleyan College said, “We’re so thankful to Dr. Pickering, and the USDA, for the opportunity to be a part of a more sustainable world. It’s so important that we at Wesleyan lead by example and embrace alternative energy solutions, and I’m proud that we are able to be part of ensuring that these sorts of projects are advanced.”

Discussions on this newest solar array began in 2019. Melink Solar and Geo from Cincinnati, Ohio, was selected as the project Engineer, Procure and Construct contractor.
The completed project uses 1,328 bi-facial panels which have solar collection capabilities on both the front and back surfaces of the panels.

Pickering added, “Pickering Energy Solutions’ mission is to encourage, develop and facilitate the use of solar and other forms of renewable energy. This project is in alignment with these goals as it introduces renewable energy projects to the community, students and future leaders within our communities.”

At the time of its installation, the Wesleyan solar array was the largest system installed in the First Energy/Mon Power system in West Virginia. The project received permission to operate in April 2022.

The United States Department of Agriculture supported the project through a REAP grant to offset some of the cost of the construction project and a loan guarantee.

West Virginia State Director for USDA Rural Development Ryan Thorn ’06, said, “We are advocates for, investors in, and partners to rural communities and the people, businesses, and organizations located within these communities. USDA Rural Development recognizes the positive impacts these critical renewable energy projects have in our communities and I’m thrilled the $380,000 investment we made through our Rural Energy for American Program helped make this million-dollar project a reality in Upshur County.”

This system will provide enough clean, renewable energy to power over 63 homes and avoid the release of 727 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. Final seeding and natural vegetation in the solar array field will help support local pollinators and provide opportunities for natural grasses to repopulate over the two-acre field.

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