Greening Coal Country: WV’s Biggest Solar Array

West Virginia might be a state known for its coal mining, but thanks to efforts by the American Public University System (APUS), it may soon become famous for a cleaner, more efficient type of energy. In late April, the school, which consists of American Military University and the American Public University, announced completion of its newest solar array which it claims is now West Virginia’s largest.

APUS said it has been working to create greener learning environmentsfor several years now, and completion of the solar array follows the opening of its energy-efficient Academic Center in late 2010, and precedes the planned completion of its new adjacent Financial Center later this year.

american public university system

image via Mountain View Solar

The new installation in Charles Town, W.V., features more than 1,600 American-made solar panels, positioned on a parking lot canopy as well as 15 solar-powered charging stations, which will allow employees and visitors to re-charge their electric or hybrid vehicles on campus. According to a recent release, school officials expect the array to provide 480,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually (enough to power 30 average-sized homes and 1.9 million miles of driving energy).

In addition to the electricity generated, the new solar panel carports will enable APUS to provide sheltered, more efficient parking space, while keeping the asphalt cooler and thereby eliminating the “heat island” effect. Watch a time-lapse view of the array’s construction here.

APUS Solar Array Ribbon-Cutting

image via APUS

“Integral to the APUS mission is a commitment to expanding access to affordable online higher education in a manner that supports local communities and respects the environment,” said APUS President & CEO Wallace E. Boston at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “We’re truly excited to be part of this milestone in setting a high standard for other universities and local businesses to emulate.”

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog

1 Comment

  • Reply May 14, 2012

    Keisha

    Thanks for this great post Beth! As an employee of the company, I can say first-hand that the University has definitely made a commitment to work toward reducing our environmental impact. Check out our Sustainability blog (www.apus-sustainability.com), where we’ve created a forum for dialogue, idea sharing, and learning.

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