College Looks to Utilize Sustainable Energy

SUNY New Paltz has made headway in further establishing its reputation as a sustainable institution.

On Thursday, Nov. 16, electricians from Solar Liberty visited the campus to oversee the installation of two 100 kilowatt power inverters. These inverters are part of a new solar energy storage system which will power the campus; this energy storage system is the first of its kind to be used in New York State. This system will soon be powering the New Paltz campus.

“Solar Liberty is committed to promoting energy independence through widespread installation of solar electric systems with a focus on engineering for system optimization,” the company’s website reads. “We further promote the technology through wholesale distribution of photovoltaic (PV) solar components.”

PV solar components absorb energy from the sun and this energy is later passed through an inverter. The inverter converts energy from a direct current output into an alternating current- which subsequently has the ability to integrate itself into the electrical network to power buildings on campus. PV arrays are already present on the rooftops of the Elting Gym and the Sojourner Truth Library.

“The hybrid converter and storage system is what places this project at the vanguard of renewable energy technology,” read a press release on the SUNY New Paltz website.

Electricians and members of the New Paltz Facilities Operations worked together to install the cabinets containing inverters and critical loads panels on the northern side of Elting Gym.

The solar energy storage system was first announced in May 2016. It is predicted to reduce energy costs on campus and will contain a store of solar energy in case of emergency or other times where it is needed.

This installation was made possible by the support for the university by organizations such as the New York Power Authority, the Electric Power Research Institute, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and Central Hudson Gas & Electric.

This installation accompanies other steps towards sustainability that the school has taken recently, including the introduction of new trash bins which include two reciprocals: recycling and landfill which are meant to promote recycling on campus. This solar energy system is more efficient, and thus promotes sustainability concepts.

Jared Weiler, first-year student and member of the New Paltz Climate Action Club, explained that there is a slight discrepancy between where the campus is and where it is heading in its sustainability endeavors.

“I believe that SUNY New Paltz is on the right track in terms of sustainability and environmentally conscious projects, however, I think that there is much more that can be done,” he said. “We are not even close to being 100 percent renewable; with the few solar panels we have, we do not make even a remote difference due to the amount of energy that this college campus uses.”

Weiler believes currently that the electricity usage is too high to be compensated with the campus’ current trends.

“It is possible for SUNY New Paltz to become more environmentally friendly, but for now, it needs some help.”