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Solar For Schools - Rio Grande & Riverside Campuses

Project Manager: Paul Mason, 223-1008

Contractor: Meridian Energy Systems, Inc. in partnership with Austin Energy

Project Description:
ACC was awarded two Solar for Schools grants by Austin Energy in late 2007 for Riverside Campus and Rio Grande Campus.  These grants were the first of its kind awarded to a community college.  Previous grants have been issued to AISD primary schools.   Throughout this past year we have been working with Austin Energy and several faculty/staff at both campuses to plan for, design and construct a 2.4 Kw solar array in a highly visible location on the campus which aims to raise awareness of ACC’s ongoing mission to become a more sustainable district and highlight the viability of solar technology.  The solar arrays have also been planned to serve as a teaching tool for the rapidly developing solar technology programs at ACC.
Each project consists of a small 64 square foot equipment shed, which houses a Gridpoint System, which is a self-contained piece of electrical equipment which converts the raw power from the solar array into useful electricity that can be used for powering buildings.
A 20’ tall steel pole supporting a “solar flower array” contains the power cells.  A series of underground conduit runs between the solar array and the equipment building (connecting to the Gridpoint System) and the equipment building and a tie-in source to a main electrical panel in an existing building provides the means for depositing electricity onto the grid of the campus.

8/14/09 Update:

The Riverside Campus Solar for Schools project was completed in mid-October 2008.  The Rio Grande Campus Solar for Schools project was completed in late December 2008.  Both installations are 2.4 KWH solar "flower" arrays.  They are the first Austin installations at a higher education institution (previous installations are limited to primary and elementary schools within Austin ISD).  They are also the first installations to incorporate new Gridpoint unit technology, which greatly enhances the monitoring capability for research and teaching and allows the array to be accessed online from any Internet connection. 
The projects were dedicated on March 4, 2009, and commemorative plaques were installed in April 2009 to mark the event.  Subsequently, the City of Austin opted to replace the original analog electric meters with WIFI digital electrical meters. The projects were handed over to ACC faculty in May 2009 to be used as research and teaching instruments to support ACC's Renewable Energy Programs.  They stand as visible examples of ACC's commitment to renewal energy technology and are the first of many projects that will raise such awareness at ACC and within the community-at-large.

Link to Dedication Ceremony for Solar Arrays

Riverside Campus Project Status:
The project is almost complete.  Please see the images below.  The only work yet to be completed is the tie in of the electrical system of the solar array to the main electrical panel in Building C.

Rio Grande Campus Project Status:

The foundation for the equipment shed has been constructed and the construction of the equipment shed itself is underway.  Meridian Energy Systems, Inc. should begin construction of the solar array (pole foundation) and digging the trenches for the underground conduit runs after Christmas Break.  The project should be completed by mid to late January at the latest.  Please see progress photos below.


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