Solar Panels @ Midtown

View real-time solar output from Midtown Urban Meadow Solar Panels.

During the spring of 2008, HACC received a Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) grant to send two teams, HACC Harrisburg and HACC Lancaster, to a solar boot camp at Dickinson College. There the attendees learned about the science behind renewable technologies, basic system design and installation. The teams returned very enthused and were given a sustainable energy mandate – to create a new Solar PV Technician course . This mandate coincided with the HACC President's announcement of the formation of a college-wide Green Initiative.

In October 2008, HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, applied to the Sustainable Energy Fund’s Solar Scholars program for a $15,000 grant to install 3kW grid-tied solar PV system in the Urban Meadow between HACC’s Midtown 2 at 1500 N. Third St., and Midtown 1 at 1523 N. Fourth St., in Harrisburg. The energy generated by the solar PV system would then be used to supplement pedestrian and parking lot lighting.

The Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) seeks to integrate “sustainable energy” into the curriculum of colleges and universities in the PP&L service area. SEF is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy education in central and eastern Pennsylvania. In January 2009, HACC was one of 12 colleges chosen to receive the SEF Solar Scholars Program grant for the solar PV system in the Urban Meadow.

HACC students were then presented with a challenge from Doug Neidich, president of GreenWorks Development, to design and construct the solar PV system. HACC engineering and architectural students teamed up to complete in the “Solar PV Design Challenge”, which consisted of the following tasks:

1) Site layout by the Architecture Club
2) Load analysis by Electrical Class students;
3) Sustainability studies in Environmental Classes;
4) Design, building and installation of solar panels by Electrical and Solar PV students

A panel of faculty, staff and professional business mentors then reviewed the designs and chose two. The winners, Matthew Hager and Nate Lebo, were then asked to collaborate their concepts into one final submission. The students then went before the City of Harrisburg Board of Planning to gain the city’s approval of their project design, a rare opportunity for a junior architect, let alone a first-year college student.

The design was approved by the City of Harrisburg Board of Planning and construction began on the solar PV system in November 2009. Construction is still ongoing with some additional brickwork and landscape lighting to be completed in Spring 2010, however the solar PV system was brought online on December 4, 2009.

This was primarily a student driven project, but it would not have been as successful without the assistance of a number of local companies in the planning and construction of the array. HACC would like to thank the following organizations for their support on this project: GreenWorks Development, LLC, Ganflec Architects & Engineers, Inc., City of Harrisburg Department of Planning, INeedSolar.com, Eastern PCM, East Coast Contracting, Orbit Technologies, and HACC Facilities under the direction of Joe Wojtysiak, staff, and faculty.