More solar panels added to Davis Hall

Ellie SherryReporter

Davis parking lot is getting a makeover with the addition of a solar panel system, which is a continuation of the Brownell and Davis garage paneled parking lot project.

Adding solar panels to the parking lots and garages is a project that has been in the works since 2012.

The idea of the project started when the solar panel industry started to change, and become more financially feasible for Southern to take part in the renewable industry.

“Figuring out how this power purchase agreement would look, which is what this kind of project is called – how that could work in a way that makes sense for Southern,” said Suzie Huminski, one of the sustainability professionals who helped the project become a possibility.

This new way of financing was designed so that one company can own the solar panels and then over time you can buy the power that they create.

This change from Southern having to own all of the land and the panels to someone else owning the panels allowed for this project to become a reality.

“I’d say three years ago was when the basic structure was put in place, and the RFP,” Huminski said, “which is a request for proposals was released to companies to bid projects.”

Fast forward to September 2019, the Brownell lot and Davis garage have both been completed and the panels in the Davis parking lot are currently underway. Once all of the projects have been plugged in, around two million kilowatt hours of electricity will be made each year. While Southern does consume about 28-20 million kilowatt hours of electricity, this is a start to switching over, and it does make a dent in southern’s carbon footprint. Many students are on board with the panel installation.

“I think that losing the parking lot for a few weeks or months while the structure is being built is worth what it will do for making Southern’s campus more green,” said business economics major, Brendan Rizza, a sophomore.

However, while this is great for Southern becoming more green, it does comprise the entire parking lot for an extended period of time. The Davis lot is a main parking lot for education majors, nursing majors and commuters, and it being closed has made parking more difficult for these people. Many have to park in Wintergreen and walk all the way to Davis, where their classes are.

“Losing the parking spots to the solar panels was complete and utter crap,” said nursing major, Morgan Fernald, a junior. “It would have made more sense putting them on top of the buildings, and in all honesty, the tuition hike isn’t worth the tax breaks the university is getting at all.”

While some students may like the panels and some may not, while the parking lot is closed, students can take advantage of the free shuttles that go around campus if they have to park in either Brownell or Wintergreen.

Photo credit: Izzy Manzo

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