PARKERSBURG — A Wood County business is receiving a $233,250 federal grant and $150,000 loan guarantee to help fund the installation of a solar power generator at West Virginia Wesleyan College.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program is providing the money for the 500-kilowatt solar panel, which was completed installation at Buckhannon Private School in December, said Chip Pickering, director of Pickering Energy Solutions in Williamstown.
“He is about to be energized” he said.
The system is expected to produce about 13% of the energy used by the college in one year, Pickering said.
“We will own and operate the system and then provide them with the electricity,” he said. “This electricity will be sold to the school, and it will offset the energy they would buy from MonPower.”
The local company is working with MonPower to connect and test the network of 1,326 panels to its electrical grid. MonPower will bill the college for the electricity it uses, minus the amount of energy produced by the solar panel.
Federal funding and loan guarantee “Allows us to be able to offer a price package to West Virginia Wesleyan,” said Pickering. The set-up and operation of the project demonstrates the effectiveness of solar energy as an option in a region that has not had the same opportunities to develop it, which will hopefully lead to its expansion. , Pickering said.
“That’s what we’re trying to do, is to level the playing field,” he said.
The system has a useful life of 30 years and is expected to produce 863,400 kilowatt hours per year, enough electricity to power 78 average US homes in one year, according to a document provided by Pickering. Over the life of the system, energy savings of $220,000 are expected.
Using renewable energy will save the burning of 460 tons of coal per year, which will reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere by 900 tons, according to Pickering’s paper. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of 177 US vehicles.
“It’s great to see West Virginia receiving funding through the USDA Rural Development Program that will strengthen our infrastructure and positively impact our communities,” U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., said in a statement announcing the award.
“Investing in rural West Virginia communities creates well-paying jobs and drives economic growth in the region and across the state,” Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., said in the statement.
Capito and Manchin are both members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and said they would continue to advocate for funding like this in West Virginia.
Evan Bevins can be contacted at [email protected]