Officials break ground for the solar energy project at Gloucester County College and GCIT, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. Pictured, from left: Dr. Brendan Rickerts, dean of the STEM Division; Freeholder Lyman Barnes, liaison to education; state Sen. Donald Norcross; Freeholder Director Robert Damminger; state Sen. President Steve Sweeney; Mike Dicken, GCIT superintendent; Michael Renna, president of South Jersey Energy Solutions; and Joe Joyce, senior vice president of RAI. (Staff Photo by Lori M. Nichols/South Jersey Times)
August 23, 2013. DEPTFORD TWP. — Gloucester County College and the Gloucester County Institute of Technology will be the main beneficiaries of a new solar energy project that was announced by the county freeholders Thursday.
A ceremonial groundbreaking was held at the edge of a 12-acre field adjacent to the Gloucester County College parking lot, which will be the location of a solar field generating 3.7 million kilowatt hours of energy each year when construction is completed in December.
In addition to the GCC project, a 603 kilowatt hour per year roof system is being installed on the roof at GCIT.
“This project is so simple … and it’s so elegant at the same time,” Freeholder Lyman Barnes said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “It creates some jobs. It keeps people working. It saves money, it saves the environment and it promotes education. I can’t think of a more perfect mix of what we want to put together in a project.”
The project is being funded by Marina Energy — which will be able to take advantage of federal tax energy credits and Solar Renewable Energy Certificates — while it provides energy resources for the two educational establishments.
The schools will own their solar panel systems after 15 years for $1 and in the interim, they are expected to save about $190,000 per year on energy costs.
“This is not going to cost the taxpayers of Gloucester County a cent. It’s not going to cost the Institute of Technology or the college a cent and in a 15-year period we will realize about $2.1 million in energy cost savings,” said Freeholder Director Bob Damminger.
“It makes sense and it works,” added State Senate President Steve Sweeney. “This is what we’re supposed to be doing — creating economic development, saving taxpayer money … This is something that’s real.”
Gloucester County College is planning to utilize the solar system as an educational tool as well as a cost-saving one.
The school’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program will be using the system to give its students a chance to work hands-on with them, calculating savings, studying design and learning about a growing part of the engineering field — green energy.
“This represents an outstanding opportunity to our students to become engaged in the fields on environmental science, environmental engineering, sustainability and several other go-green initiatives,” said Brenden Rickards, the Dean of GCC’s STEM program. “We look forward to fully utilizing these solar fields for many outstanding education opportunities.”
Construction is expected to begin next week and to be completed by the end of the year.
Contact staff writer Rebecca Forand at 856-845-3300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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