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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Solar project goes on despite setbacks

    Despite the absence of high-profile supporter Cade Bernsen, the project to install solar panels on campus buildings is moving forward, albeit slowly, sources said.

    Nicole Sanderson, an anthropology junior and president of the Energy Conservation and Lifestyles Initiative Partnering Students and their Environment, said estimates are still being made to determine how much it will cost to install the panels on the UA Visitors Center.

    Sanderson said she is meeting with the Facilities Management department tomorrow to discuss the future of the project.

    If the university agrees to pay for the remainder of the installation, the project can continue, but if not, more money will have to be raised, Sanderson said.

    Sanderson said she thinks another $4,000 would have to be raised in addition to the approximately $1,800 already collected in order to complete the project.

    The engineering testing and other estimates made to the Visitor Center have already been completed, said Al Tarcola, director of Facilities Management.

    Before the panels are installed, Facilities Management must wait for the money to be raised and must find vendors to do the installation.

    Contractors must submit bids for the installation for Facilities Management to approve before any work is done.

    The speed of the project depends on the procedures and formalities Facilities Management must follow, Sanderson said.

    Sanderson said Tucson Electric Power offered to donate 4-kilowatt solar panels for the project if enough money is raised to have them installed.

    The Visitor Center could hold 6-kilowatt solar panels or less, Sanderson said.

    TEP’s offer for a donation was a blessing for the project, Sanderson said.

    “”They’ve been gung-ho about it all the time,”” Sanderson said.

    ECLIPSE, a UA energy conservation club, had been working with the Associated Students of the University of Arizona to help raise money for the project.

    Former ASUA President Bernsen was a proponent behind the initiative to raise money to install the solar panels. His semester-long paid leave of absence cast a shadow over the future of the project.

    Visitor Center Director Heather Lukach said ASUA has not contacted her in quite some time about the project.

    “”We actually haven’t been contacted in the recent months, this semester actually by ASUA,”” Lukach said.

    The last Lukach said she heard from ASUA was at a press conference after the Project Solar kickoff in October.

    Despite the setback, Lukach said she is still confident that the Visitor Center will someday be powered by solar energy.

    “”We’re still looking forward to being the first building on campus with solar panels,”” Lukach said.

    Lukach said she thought the solar project was off to a good start with Solar Blitz.

    Sanderson said partnering with ASUA has been a mixed bag.

    While some people in ASUA did a great service to the project, others spent as much money as was raised on promotions like T-shirts and balloons, Sanderson said.

    The Solar Blitz campaign, a student fundraiser run by ASUA, raised $1,128 towards the project, according to figures released by the senate in November.

    Former ASUA Sen. Matthew Boepple, a political science sophomore, said the funds raised for the project are sitting in the UA Foundation and are earmarked specifically for solar energy.

    ASUA business manager Gail Tanner declined to comment on the exact amount ASUA has at the UA Foundation.

    Boepple said the project would continue if anyone within ASUA is willing to pick it up.

    Sen. Lauren Conway, a political science freshman, said the student senate is currently looking into which campus issues are important and which should be focused on.

    “”I think solar energy is an important issue on campus,”” Conway said.

    Conway said the senate would likely back the project if there is enough interest.

    Incoming ASUA President Erin Hertzog said ASUA’s involvement in Project Solar depends on if there is still interest within ECLIPSE.

    “”If this is something that’s their goal, I’ll make it my goal too,”” Hertzog said.

    Bernsen refused to comment on anything concerning ASUA, directing any questions toward his lawyer.

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