Proposal would make UI largest solar energy user in state - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Proposal would make UI largest solar energy user in state

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It's a vision that would make the University of Iowa one of the top solar energy using universities in the country.

"All over campus, on top of the dorms, even small little car charging points where students can plug their electric bikes into," said  Tim Dwight, who formed the Iowa Solar and Small Wind Energy Trade Association.

Dwight is now part of an effort to install more than 12 hundred kilowatts of solar electric power on campus by 2013.

A new proposal set to go before lawmakers next session calls for more than three million dollars of state funds to the UI for the project.

"You look at all the energy resources we have today and what we've been traditionally powering our way of life on, and things need to change," Dwight said.

Solar experts have identified several university buildings that would be cost effective for installing solar panels, including the brand new  football indoor practice facility.

"We came up with a viable plan for putting rooftop solar on existing buildings on campus and parking ramps," said Kimberly Dickey, board president of the Iowa Renewable Energy Association.

Proponents say solar energy continues to become more affordable.

"The market has grown, and the industry is ripe right now. The costs have come down and the investment really makes sense for Iowans, Dickey said. 

The proposal is in line with the school's sustainability goals.  University officials welcome exploring the idea further.

"By the year 2020 we also hope that 40 percent of our energy will come from renewable sources, and solar has always been a part of that discussion," said UI spokesperson Tom Moore.

A glimpse of what may be coming on campus in the near future.

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