Solar Program Stalls

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Tue, April 10 2012 at 5:33 PM, Updated: Tue, April 10 2012 at 5:50 PM

A multi-million dollar program to install solar energy panels at all seven of Oregon's universities is on hold for now.

While the hill behind Oregon Institute of Technology was supposed to have a large array of solar panels by now, OIT President Chris Maples explains that the main contractor for the 'Solar By Degrees' program is facing a tight economy in a volatile industry...

"Redco out of Utah found themselves in a position where they're not going to be able to complete a bunch of projects, including the broad Oregon University System project, and they backed out of the project."

Governor Kitzhaber was at OIT last August for the project groundbreaking, and OIT had hoped to have an array of solar panels in place by December of last year - but so far, no work has been done.

"I wouldn't say I was frustrated - that it wasn't as soon as I hoped - I was disappointed."  Noted President Maples, though he adds there's still a ray of hope for the project.  "There has been an active search for another partner, we're getting pretty close to finding that."

If that partner can be found, Maples says it will take about three or four months to install the system...

"The timeline I've seen has solar panels in place by October."

Once in place, those panels would provide about 35% of OIT's electrical needs.  Adding a solar element to its geothermal resources would put OIT closer to being the only campus on the planet that's energy independent through the use of renewable, 'green' energy resources.

About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.

Lyle's job history is quite colorful.  He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.

Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.  "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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