New Solar Panel System Saves ACC Thousands in Energy Costs

Aerial view of the Round Rock Campus solar panel system.

Austin Community College is expanding its use of solar energy to power campuses. A new system installed at Round Rock Campus has saved the college more than $14,000 in energy costs so far this year. By the end of 2012, the college expects to save more than $40,000 through the Round Rock Campus installation – believed to be the largest solar panel system in the city of Round Rock.

Texas Solar Power Company installed 1,274 solar panels atop Building 5000 in December. The panels are generating two-thirds of the total energy needed to operate the building, and savings from the panels will increase during summer, when there is more daylight to produce electricity.

“This makes sense for our budget and the environment,” says Andy Kim, the college’s director of environmental stewardship. “The panels further ACC’s commitment to sustainable practices while reducing tax dollars spent on electricity.”

Through the end of April, the Round Rock Campus solar installation had an environmental impact equivalent to removing 57 cars from Central Texas roadways.

Round Rock is ACC’s third campus with an extensive solar panel system. The college installed systems at Eastview and Northridge campuses in late 2010, saving the college about $44,000 in energy costs last year.

The Round Rock Campus solar project was funded by a $900,000 grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, with the college contributing $300,000 in matching funds. ACC has received a utility rebate of $315,000 for the project and expects to receive an additional $71,000 by the end of the year.

ACC initiated its collegewide commitment to environmental stewardship in 2009 with the passage of a Board of Trustees policy on sustainable practices. ACC was among 10 institutions to receive the 2012 Climate Leadership Award from Second Nature and the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

“We have accomplished a lot in the last three years,” Kim says. “Every step adds up and makes a difference.”

The college’s other sustainability initiatives include Green Pass (Capital Metro bus and rail passes for students and employees), Green Car (priority parking for fuel-efficient and low-emission vehicles), electric vehicle charging stations, installation of energy-efficient lighting, and water bottle filling stations. ACC’s commitment to sustainable practices is also reflected in the college’s many green-economy career training programs – such as solar panel systems (photovoltaics), wind power, energy-efficient structures, green building, weatherization, alternative fuel vehicles, and managing for sustainability.

For more information on ACC’s sustainability practices, visit The site allows users to monitor solar panel energy savings in real time.

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