Chesapeake College pulls the plug on wind turbine, focuses on solar
WYE MILLS — Based on the success of its solar energy program over the past year, Chesapeake College is decommissioning its wind turbine on the northeast corner of its campus in Wye Mills and plans to invest future resources in renewable energy produced by the sun.
Since installing a 6-acre solar array and photovoltaic parking canopy on the south side of its property in 2016, Chesapeake has produced enough power in one year to offset about 45 percent of the college’s energy demand, according to a news release.
“Solar energy has propelled our renewable energy production,” said Stuart Bounds, Chesapeake’s interim president. “In the first year, the array produced 2.25 million kilowatts of electricity at a cost of $106,000. This represents a savings of $85,000 off of grid prices. We anticipate similar savings on utility bills over the next 19 years, which doesn’t include any additional solar installations constructed.”
Chesapeake also is incorporating solar energy into its curriculum. This fall, the college is offering workforce classes in solar photovoltaic electricity and electric ve- hicle technology.
“Our vision is for the college to be a living laboratory for studying renewable energy and sustainability,” Bounds said.
Chesapeake’s wind turbine, installed in 2011, marked the beginning of the college’s sustainability efforts and energy-savings measures on campus that now include solar energy.
In February, the turbine’s generator suffered catastrophic failure. Most likely caused by a power surge, repair estimates are between $20,000 and $25,000, according to the release.
“The turbine was a catalyst in creating a culture of energy conservation at Chesapeake,” Bounds said. “But we determined that the repair cost was too expensive and our resources could more effectively be in- vested in solar power, which will result in greater energy savings on campus.”
Plans are to sell the turbine on the secondary market.
With the solar panels shown here installed in a parking lot on campus, Chesapeake College is decommissioning its wind turbine.