By Lindzie White

During the year 2010, Cape Cod Community College recognized the importance of using renewable energy over fossil fuel to get their electricity. The college did not originally have plans of utilizing the acreage of land near the tennis courts to develop wind turbines on the campus. According to Joe Mackinnon the director of facilities, “ 4C’s plan was to have a wind farm to reduce its carbon footprint.” As the plan for wind turbines advanced, it was stopped due to the size of the wind turbines. “Local Old King’s Highway Historical Commission would not approve the large poles of the turbines,” Director of Facilities.

Cape Cod Community College had to pivot in order to meet their goal of having renewable energy as a power supply. Solar was the next best option for the campus. There were many phases to the developing solar on the campus. The process was explained by Mackinnon, “Departments in the campus along with the Board of Trustees worked out a contract with a third-party solar installer called Walden Energy. Followed DCAMM’s regulations and proceeded to meet the regulations required through Energy Conservation measures (ECM’s).” Director of Facilities goes on to discuss that the Finance Department handled the funding side of the project. “Through the contract with Walden Energy, a power purchase agreement or PPA was established where 4C’s put up the initial upfront cost of the solar invest and would get a return on investment or ROI through a 30-year contract.” The established collaboration with Walden Energy and 4C’s gives clean renewable energy to the campus and also the ROI is possible, because extra kilowatts of power are sold to Eversource, the utility company, at a competitive rate.

There are also incentives for the solar farm that students can benefit from. The state of Massachusetts will likely be funding over “$8,000,000 to fund energy projects for 4C’s like additional solar arrays, energy storage, replacement of inefficient HVAC systems, new energy management systems, water savings devices, weatherization of building and door entrances and some lighting upgrades,” says Steve Zazzera, the Project Manager at 4C’s. These energy investments will lower the electrical bill at the campus and ultimately lower tuition. The cost for a student to be using the building’s utilities will be practically free one day.

However, that’s not it. As the finalization of the newly funded projects get accomplished, more classes will be available for students to get involved in the renewable energy fields. Students will be encouraged and supported to sign up for courses related to renewable energies or carbon neutral energy systems. Cape Cod Community College is at the head of the curve, and will be able to support students in their quest of renewable energies.

Many questions still linger about what will come of the solar arrangement at 4C’s, like what is the timeline to expect renewable courses at 4C’s. Many questions have been answered by Steve Zazzera and Joe MacKinnon faculty members at 4C’s and would be glad to answer any more questions that any students have to ask them. Their contact information is jmackinnon@capecod.edu​ and ​szazzera@capecod.edu.​ They both had mentioned that they would be willing to talk to any student interested in learning more about the solar projects at 4C’s.