Saving energy costs at Madison College


Lucas Smith / Clarion

Solar panels have been on the roof of the Truax Campus for a year.

Christopher Bird, News Editor

It has almost been a whole year since the solar panels on Madison Colleg’s Truax Campus building have begun producing energy, and a great deal of progress has been made in saving energy at the college.

The solar array consists of 5,700 Solar panels and 17 inverters, covering 125,000 square feet of roof on the Truax Campus main building. After months of construction and troubleshooting, the system has been up and functioning for a while now, and it is time to check in on how its doing.

Madison College aims to save up to $200,000 a year with this solar array, which is largest in Wisconsin. On a good day, the system is even capable of producing 100% of the Truax main building’s energy. Wes Marquardt, Manager for Engineering Services at Madison College, shared his view on the progress that has been made in utilizing the solar array.

“They’ve worked all the kinks out of it and they’ve got all the strings working now, so it’s working really good, it’s producing energy and saving the college money,” Marquardt said. The solar panels have been giving energy for almost a year now, starting in Nov. of last year. Since then, the system has produced 13.8 gigawatt hours of energy. For some of this time the system wasn’t even operating at full capacity, and Marquardt said that it was really the last couple months that would give the best idea what kind of production this system is going to have.

Since Mar. of this year, the system has been making an impressive amount of energy, but this isn’t the only way that Madison college is aiming to reduce energy costs and their environmental footprint. “We’ve been replacing a lot of light fixtures with LEDs,” Marquardt said, which leads to “a lot of maintenance savings because we don’t have to go back and replace them because the lamp life is so long.”

Madison College is still aiming to make more progress in saving energy throughout its campuses. Marquardt said that the most exciting new developments are “the new roof insulation, which is going reduce energy use, and the PV (solar) panels. We are going to continue to replace light fixtures and lamps, and install more energy saving devices.”