Solar power systems derive clean, pure energy from the sun. Installing solar panels helps combat greenhouse gas emissions and reduces collective dependence on fossil fuel. Traditional electricity is sourced from fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. That being said, the environmental benefits are worth mentioning. The U.S. places second in the world in annual carbon dioxide emissions at 17.9%, right behind China. By replacing the carbon footprint of utility power with clean electricity from solar panels, Arkansas State University-Newport is moving forward in making a difference on the main campus by switching to solar power.

            The Arkansas State University-Newport made the switch on Wednesday, March 14th to solar power on the main campus. The change is not only friendly to the environment, but the savings can be passed on to students. Chancellor Dr. Sandra Massey said during the presentation that the larger solar array on campus is the only one of its kind at an Arkansas community college. With the more than 2,100 solar panels, the system will create 50% of the energy consumed by the Newport campus each year. This translates into a savings of $90,000 annually.

            According to Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Adam Adair, “Over the life of this, it actually has the potential after we pay for the system to generate about $2.5 million.” Adair said the college is always striving to be more efficient to prevent rising costs to students tuition and fees. “We want our students to have open pathways to achieve their goals and the least expensive that we can offer an education to our students, the better they’re going to be and they can put back into our community. Community colleges are all about communities.”

            Not only are the solar panels a means to save energy and cost to students, but the system provides an educational opportunity for students as a lab for solar renewable maintenance.