Antioch College in Yellow Springs is ramping up its renewable energy sources by installing solar panels in a field on campus. The panels have been controversial with some Yellow Springs residents, who have argued that the field, known locally as the “Golf Course”, will become less accessible to the public. Residents also raised concerns about how the panels will look.
But on Monday evening the Yellow Springs planning commission unanimously voted to allow the one-megawatt array.
Antioch College reopened in 2011 after being closed for several years, and its reopening included a new focus on sustainability.
“Fossil fuels come at a very high cost to the planet, and we all want to move away from that,” says Andi Adkins, the college’s Vice President of Administration and Finance.
The solar array could go in as soon as this summer, and will provide about 41 percent of the total energy used on campus. The college plans to collaborate with its art department to decorate the fencing around the solar panels, and sheep from a college-run livestock farm will graze the area to cut the grass.
The array comes with little up-front cost to the college as it will be provided through an agreement with a private company, with an option to purchase the array after several years. It’s expected to produce over a million kilowatt hours a year of power, most of which will go to power the central geothermal plant currently under construction on the campus. The remaining campus power and electricity will still be purchased from the Village of Yellow Springs, which is also moving towards an 80 percent renewable energy portfolio.
Antioch's move comes just as the state of Ohio places its standards for renewable energy on hold for two years to study the costs.
WYSO is licensed to Antioch College and located on the campus.
Lewis Wallace is WYSO's economics reporter and substitute morning host. Follow him @lewispants.