Renewable energy grants could help bring more solar power to Naperville
The list of Naperville buildings using solar power could increase with funding assistance from the city Tuesday.
Naperville City Council members will consider awarding $50,000 renewable energy grants to both Midwest Sports and Pain Specialists and North Central College to help pay for the purchase and installation of roof solar systems.
Grant money comes from the Naperville Renewable Energy Program which is funded with dollars residents and businesses voluntarily contribute when paying their electric bills. The program — with a current fund balance of about $1.4 million — provides grants to commercial customers who invest in solar, wind, photovoltaic, biomass and fuel cell technology projects, according to city documents.
“The program is successful because residents are interested in supporting this type of development,” said Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico. “On the grant side, sometimes we still struggle to get people to apply for the grants.”
Midwest and North Central College were the only groups that submitted applications this year, and both expect to have panels installed in the coming months.
North Central College would put the grant money toward a $179,286, 313-panel solar system on the roof of its Business, Operations and Maintenance building at 999 E. Chicago Ave. North Central projects its new solar system would produce 129,615 kWh of energy per year and provide $11,445 in energy savings annually.
The college used renewable energy grants from the city to help fund its solar thermal project on one of its residence halls and its 1,632-panel project on the Residence Hall/Recreation Center.
With sustainability as part of its mission, having solar energy on campus serves as a teaching tool for students, said Brittany Drummond, sustainability coordinator for North Central.
“We try to use our campus as a lab and incorporate things like this as teaching tools in the classroom,” Drummond said.
North Central College staff will provide tours, presentations, and project information to organizations and groups in the community interested in learning about solar energy.
“It’s really important solar panels are visible so people can see more solar is coming up in the area,” Drummond said.