Explore solar energy up close at CLC

Updated 9/23/2021 12:10 PM

After installing a large collection of solar panels over the summer, College of Lake County (CLC) is set to show all the work done to make the campus greener during the Illinois Solar Tour on Saturday, Sept. 25. Known for being a national leader in community college sustainability, this event is a great opportunity to see the work firsthand.

Illinois Solar Tour, put on by Illinois Solar Education Association, allows people from all over the state to visit various locations using solar energy. These could be houses, businesses or other locations like CLC.


In the last year, CLC added solar panels on the roofs of campus buildings in addition to the solar field easily visible at ground level.

During the tour, visitors will have a chance to not only see what kind of equipment CLC has on campus, but they can also learn about using solar energy themselves. The tour will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and have guides, many of whom will be CLC students, helping to inform visitors. The tour will be on the west side of the campus off Willow Way.

Visitors will also be brought to the roof to safely look at the solar panels.

David Husemoller, CLC sustainability manager, expects the audience for the tour to be a diverse group of people from the community.

"For community members and businesses, it can be a resource for them to learn how to get solar energy and how to use it right," Husemoller said. "Even other colleges and institutions who want to start using solar power can come."

He also hopes people from CLC will want to learn about what the college does to be sustainable and green.

"This is something we're hoping CLC students and staff will be interested in," Husemoller said. "They'll see how their school is being partly powered by the sun. This is a brand-new thing and exciting. Not a lot of colleges have this level of solar energy production."

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CLC has a 1.9-megawatt system when combining the energy created by the solar panels on the rooftops and in the field. Under Illinois law, if a single location creates more than 2 megawatts, they are considered a utility. Husemoller hopes to have a display set up so people can better understand what a 1.9-megawatt system means.

"Visitors will see a live demonstration of what solar panels do," Husemoller said. "They don't move, so many people don't know anything other than they create power."

Data is still being gathered, but Husemoller estimates that now nearly 20% of the energy at the Grayslake Campus will be from solar power.

While the Grayslake Campus is already at the limit, solar energy can still be produced at the other campuses and locations. Currently, there are plans to have solar panels at the Student Services Lakeshore building and at the Lakeshore urban farm to expand the college's sustainability efforts.

Once open, Husemoller says there's even opportunity for solar power at the Advance Technology Center and Brae Loch buildings.

Previously, only the science building used solar energy, but now the solar energy being produced on campus goes into partially powering all buildings. In 2018 and 2019, CLC participated in the solar tour showing off the science building. During those tours, local politicians and interested home and business owners came to see what CLC was doing.

"A lot of people are looking for ways to save money on the bills," Husemoller said. "Electrical bills stack up in the summertime, and that's when you get the most energy from the sun. Businesses benefit from having an interest in that."

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