WALLA WALLA, Wash.— Whitman has received a $51,750 grant from Pacific Power’s Blue Sky renewable energy program to support the college’s proposed 23kW photovoltaic solar array. 

The project would place approximately 20 solar panels with a 23kW electricity potential on the roof of Jewett Residence Hall. In addition to providing solar electricity, the proposed demonstration project would be used as an educational tool for the Whitman and Walla Walla communities, said Rachna Sinnott, director of foundation and corporate relations.

A solar monitoring station established in the Hall of Science atrium, adjacent to a pre-existing weather, seismic and stream flow monitoring station, would enable students and visitors to monitor the output of the system.

Total cost of the proposed project is expected to be about $180,000, said Sinnott, and in addition to the Pacific Power grant the college is investigating other sources to help pay for the project. The Alternative Energy Fund Team, a student and alumni group dedicated to promoting renewable energy on campus, has committed to raising $18,000 from their individual constituents and to borrowing $20,000 from Whitman’s newly created Sustainability Revolving Loan Fund to contribute to the cost of the project.

The project itself will offset power costs at the current per kWH rate of $.04 (about $1,600 per year at current electricity rates) and will make the college eligible for tax incentives through Washington State’s Investment Cost Recovery Program ($2,000 per year), said Jed Schwendiman, associate to the president. “Over a period of five years, the college would expect to see about $18,000 in savings.”

The teamwork between students, alumni, staff and faculty to make this project happen has been compelling, said Sinnott. “This team effort will provide a wonderful educational opportunity for the entire community.”

Karlis Rokpelnis ’09, campus sustainability coordinator, added, “By generating a portion of its electricity on campus, the Whitman community will clearly demonstrate its commitment to environmentally sound development.”


CONTACT: Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service, (509) 527-5156