By Tom Emery
CARLINVILLE – Optimism for the future abounds this week after Blackburn College broke ground on a state-of-the-art solar project.
The $3 million, 2-megawatt solar array — which will be constructed on 8 acres of the northern part of the Blackburn campus — is expected to provide more than 80% of the school’s energy needs.
A crowd of dignitaries attended a two-part event Thursday that began with a welcome in the Mahan Science Wing before continuing outside at the construction site for a ceremonial ground-breaking.
“The solar farm is such a good example of one of Blackburn’s core values, self-sufficiency,” Blackburn President Julie Murray-Jensen said. “Blackburn prides itself on taking care of our community, and this is one more way we can practice and honor this spirit.
The ground-breaking was the latest step in a project that has spanned more than two years. The cost of the project is partially covered by renewable energy credits from the Illinois Power Agency.
“I’m very excited about this project,” Morris said. “It’s been two years in the making, and this project has a 25-year lifespan. It’s exciting to know that 80 percent of our energy needs will be taken care of for that long.”
The array was bought from IL-Solar of Litchfield with tax-exempt bond proceeds.
The campus uses 3.6 kilowatts of power annually. The solar array will provide 3.1 kilowatts and generate $125,000 in annual savings after project expenses. That is a 60% savings on utility costs, Blackburn’s second-largest expense behind payroll.