Preliminary work on the installation of solar panels on a piece of vacant land in Yellow Springs could begin as early as next week, according to Antioch College officials.
Antioch is installing the panels on land it owns on Corry St. and the energy generated from the arrays will be used to heat and cool the campus, Reggie Stratton, physical plant director at the college said.
The first step is to take down some trees in the space and mow the lawn, Stratton said. A geological study is also being done so that developers can get a better idea about the ground and the sink holes on the property, Stratton added.
The pre-installation is expected to start on July 28 with equipment being brought onto the site in August. The projected completion date is Nov. 24, Stratton said.
“The array and the farm’s whole concept is to create an interactive learning experience for the students,” said Stratton.
Antioch College received the OK on Monday night to execute a plan to install the solar panels despite opposition from some residents.
The Yellow Springs Village Council rejected, unanimously, a citizen group’s appeal of a planning commission decision to allow installation of the panels.
“Everybody in this group supports Antioch College and solar energy. It is just the use of this space,” said Laura Curliss, a member of the Yellow Springs Open Space Committee, which filed the appeal.
The planning commission had approved the project on June 23.
“I am pleased that the village council denied the appeal. It was a great debate but, I am glad that we can put this behind us and move forward with the solar array,” said Stratton.
Antioch College approached the village in 2012, about building solar arrays on the land, known to the community as the “golf course” because it operated as such 25 years agoSince implementing a solar array is a conditional use the school needed approval by the planning commission.
Residents said their biggest concerns about the project include noise from the transformer, glare from the arrays, sink holes, an 8-foot chain link fence, and the loss of open space.
“Well at this point there is nothing standing in the college’s way. We don’t know where we are going from here. There is another issue that is coming up that they intend to do farming on the sustainable area,” said Curliss.
Antioch College’s primary goal is to be the first liberal arts school heated and cooled on green energy. According to Andi Adkins, vice president for finance and operations, the project has no up front costs since the school is not the owners of the solar array. The geothermal plant will save the school $450 per year, and is estimated to save the school $250,000 over the 25-year life span, 25 years, of the project.
“Our first surprise is that we were surprised by the reactions by the neighbors. However we understand it. We have six neighbors bordering the outside of the campus where the neighbors have enjoyed the empty space,” Stratton said.
“We want to demonstrate to our students that we walk the talk,” said Stratton. “I think our neighbors, although now are skeptical, will appreciate its beauty. They will still be able to use the open space. Once they see the finished product, hopefully they will enjoy it,” said Stratton.