- Associated Press - Sunday, April 10, 2016

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Students at Friends University in Wichita will be using solar power in the university’s library as part of a Westar Energy grant program to promote solar energy in Kansas.

The university is installing a 29-panel, 9.5 kilowatt solar power array at the entrance of the Edmund Stanley Library, The Wichita Eagle reported (https://bit.ly/1NdSTug ). The $85,000 project is expected to be in use by early next week.

The direct current generated by the solar panels will go through an inverter on the side of the building and be converted into regular alternating current that will augment the power the university currently buys from Westar.

The front of the building was chosen to make the project visible, even though it is not the most optimal place for the panels because it is shaded from the afternoon sun, said Patrick Attwater, the CEO of One80 solar, which is installing the unit.

“One of the requirements was that it was going to be visible to the public and educational, so if you look at a lot of the projects, this one is probably the most visible of all these solar projects … in the fact that it’s this awning across the front of the library,” Attwater said. “And as we’re installing it, you’re seeing all the students and teachers and faculty walking by and taking pictures and asking lots of questions so we know that the visibility part is working.”

Friends President Amy Carey said the solar project is expected to save money over time and is part of an effort for the university to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly. But she said the most important part of the project is its educational value.

“We will have a kiosk in the library … for students to take a look at the energy usage and the panels and how they’re helping to provide energy,” Carey said. “The students are really excited about it. We’re hearing good buzz.”

The project costs include the installation of the panels, inverter and wiring, along with 25 years of maintenance and the educational parts, including the kiosks, Attwater said.

The demonstration project is one of 15 around Kansas being supported by Westar, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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