Solar Energy Helps Keep the Electricity on at McKendree University

Lebanon, Ill. — Solar energy is now helping to power the electricity and reduce energy costs at the McKendree University bookstore and The Lair student activity center. A 28-panel, 7.2 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system recently installed atop the flat roof of the Deneen Student Center building was activated on Sept. 26.

“This project demonstrates our ongoing commitment to affordable renewable energy and sustainability,” said Dr. James Dennis, president. The university will apply for a 40 percent solar rebate offered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to offset the cost. While the new system does not fully power the bookstore and the student center, it can produce 8,600 kilowatt-hours of carbon-free electricity per year. Plenty of space is available on the rooftop to add more solar modules in the future.

“This system demonstrates how easy it is for an average homeowner or organization to do something appreciable for the environment,” said Mike Hornitschek of StraightUp Solar, the St. Louis company that installed the system.

While the solar panels are visible only to students living on the upper floors of adjacent Barnett residence hall, their impact will not go unnoticed. Students will be able to monitor the system’s power generation and output production in real time on a flat panel monitor installed in the dining hall. “Solar gives you real-time, tangible data to demonstrate the magnitude of your sustainability contribution,” Hornitschek said. He estimates that over 25 years, the system will offset 169 tons of CO2 emissions - the equivalent of planting three acres of trees or not driving 550,000 miles.

More photos of the new system are posted.


Photo of Solar Panel Installation

Dr. Robb Van Putte, biology professor and chair of Environmental Awareness and Sustainability Committee, and Rebekah Scher, a student member of the campus Green Team, talk with Mike Hornitschek of StraightUp Solar on the roof of McKendree University’s Deneen Student Center.