Partnership puts solar atop another library |

Partnership puts solar atop another library

CMC student Eric Black takes a measurement during installation of the solar panels atop the Carbondale Branch Library.
Emily Hisel / Garfield County Libraries |

In 2012, the Garfield County Libraries first partnered with Colorado Mountain College (CMC) to put a 10 kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic system on the New Castle Branch Library. In 2013, CMC returned to put a 19.6 kW array on the Silt Branch Library. This summer CMC returned yet again to install the biggest solar array to date (29.9 kW) on the Carbondale Branch Library.

What makes this partnership so unique is the fact that it’s the CMC students and their instructor, Chris Ellis, who are doing the work. Ellis and his eight students in “Photovoltaic Components” last fall worked together to plan out the solar array.

Then this summer Ellis and five of the students from the “Photovoltaic Grid Tied” course worked with Master Electrician Jordan Arnhold and others from Green-Tech Electrical to install the solar panels on the Carbondale Branch Library roof. It took about 350 man hours to complete the installation.

In this partnership, the libraries paid for materials while the CMC students provided the labor — and gained from the learning experience. As a result, the library will start saving money immediately on its electric bill. Jerry Morris, facility manager for the Garfield County Libraries, said, “The system will cut annual electrical demand at the library by 40 to 50 percent. In winter, the solar will pretty much run the whole building, except during times of snow cover.”

CMC’s Chris Ellis has been a big proponent of the partnership. “The continuation of our work with the Garfield County Libraries has been very fulfilling for me personally,” Ellis said. “Community projects are a keystone to providing a healthy and sustainable society of which we can all be proud to participate.”

The Garfield County Libraries would like to thank CMC, its staff, and its students for their hard work and partnership on this project. We would also like to thank the Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE), private donors, and the Garfield County Public Library Foundation for their generous grants and funding for this important project.

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