UTSA Wins $1 Million in Stimulus Funding to Install Solar Energy on Campus

The University of Texas at San Antonio, led by Dave Riker, Associate Vice President for Facilities, along with a team of technical experts, Brian Kelley, Mo Jamshidi, Hariharan Krishnaswami and Gerardo Trevino in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will receive $1.08 million in Department of Energy stimulus funds distributed by the State Energy Conservation Office  (SECO) to install solar panels on two campus buildings and develop a wireless smart grid to monitor the technology’s energy and cost savings in real-time.  The federal stimulus funding is UTSA’s first clean energy grant.

“UTSA is committed to achieving national research status,” said Mauli Agrawal, dean of UTSA’s College of Engineering.  “Through energy and sustainability research, the College of Engineering is steadfast in supporting that goal.”

UTSA’s grant is one of four that will enable solar panel installations in San Antonio.  The City of San Antonio, St. Philips College and The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio have also received funding for solar initiatives.

“This is a big step forward for sustainability in San Antonio,” said Mayor Julian Castro.  “With these grants, we will multiply our solar energy production by several times as well as make real the value of renewable sources of energy to the community.”

UTSA will install its solar panels on the roofs of the University Center’s recent expansion and the Support Services Building, located on its Main Campus.  The panels on both buildings are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 273,661 pounds annually, the equivalent of planting 37.2 acres of trees.  They are also expected to generate 237 Megawatt hours of energy, saving UTSA as much as $64,000 per year.

“The introduction of this green technology fits into UTSA’s long-term energy plan by reducing annual utility costs, and providing a renewable source of electricity to power UTSA facilities, thereby saving scarce operating funds for other important purposes,” said UTSA associate vice president for facilities Dave Riker.

To create opportunities for UTSA students to work on the solar project, CPS Energy has pledged $127,720 from its solar rebate program for scholarships.

“It may be one of these very students who someday develops more efficient solar power generation technologies or solves the all-important issue of power storage making renewable energy sources like solar PV as effective as conventional power plants in supplying our energy needs,” said Bruce Evans, director of Custom Solutions Delivery at CPS Energy.

UTSA expects to have its solar energy systems in operation by the end of next year.