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Solar-panel project receives national award

  • From left: Tim Thimmesch, Terry Pahl and Dan Malone.
  • From left: Tim Thimmesch, Terry Pahl and Dan Malone.

Posted on August 16, 2017

Grand Valley State University received the 2017 APPA Effective and Innovative Practices Award and $4,000 for its partnership with Consumers Energy on the solar-panel project on the Allendale Campus. 

APPA, which recognizes leadership in educational facilities, said the award was based on several factors including creativity, innovativeness, sustainability, productivity and institutional benefit.

The 17-acre, 11,200-solar-panel project is owned and operated by Consumers Energy through its Solar Gardens program. The site provides electricity produced by solar energy to enrolled customers across the state, including Grand Valley. The university subscribes to 500 kilowatts.

"The community Solar Gardens project has been a success since its startup, and the partnership and collaboration with Consumers Energy on this project has been outstanding," said Tim Thimmesch, associate vice president for Facilities Services.

Thimmesch and Terry Pahl, facilities engineer, accepted the award in July at the 2017 APPA Annual Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco.

The Solar Gardens program serves as an extension of the classroom at Grand Valley. A grant from Consumers Energy allowed for students and faculty members to design and construct two transportable, solar energy-producing modules in 2016. Consumers Energy is also providing grant monies for interdisciplinary projects and curriculum.

Dan Malone, senior vice president of engineering for Consumers Energy, said the company was pleased to collaborate with Grand Valley in developing and locating its first Solar Gardens project on the Allendale Campus and to have the university as a major subscriber. 

"The Solar Gardens program is allowing Grand Valley to not only increase its commitment to sustainability, but also provide educational opportunities for faculty and students," Malone said. 

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