New MCC solar panels: Watch the energy savings live

Solar panels were installed on the roofs of buildings at three MCC campuses starting in the summer of 2015. This is the view from atop MCC-Penn Valley’s Health Science Institute.

You may not be able to see them, but solar panels atop 18 buildings at three MCC campuses are busily harnessing energy from the sun to help power the buildings. Now there’s an easy way to tell exactly how much solar energy is being produced.

By going to mcckc.edu/solar-panels and clicking on a campus — MCC-Maple Woods, MCC-Business & Technology or MCC-Penn Valley — you can pick an MCC solar location to bring up a screen that looks like this:

In this case, in one week’s time the solar panels at the MCC-Maple Woods Campus Center had produced 435 kilowatt hours of renewable energy — enough to power two single-family homes for a week. According to eGauge, that equals 327 pounds of coal that didn’t have to be burned. Put another way, it’s like planting eight trees.

Note, by the way, that the first half of this particular week was cloudy and rainy. As the graph shows, more energy was produced later in the week when the sun came out.

This was the one-week view, but the buttons at the bottom of the gauge allow you to set it to daily, three-day, monthly etc.

“It’s exciting to be able to find ways to be more environmentally responsible as a College community,” says Shelley Kneuvean, MCC vice chancellor for financial and administrative services. “Having a way to visually watch our energy generation and savings in real time in understandable terms helps all of us relate to the big impact even small changes can have.”

The energy generated by the MCC solar panels is converted into electricity, which is used to feed power back to the buildings. The solar energy is “free, ” so MCC also benefits from lower utility costs. 

The solar program is a partnership between the College and KCP&L Solar Inc.  In addition to providing a renewable power source that will have a positive impact on the environment, the solar panels are expected to save MCC about  $370,000 in utility costs over the next two decades.

Installation of the solar panels was fully funded through a KCP&L Solar rebate program to encourage the generation of alternative energy while reducing demand on the regional power grid.