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West Virginia Wesleyan unveils solar canopy to power performing arts center

BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — The performing arts center on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College will be powered by solar energy.

West Virginia Wesleyan (WVWC) officials unveiling a solar canopy Thursday that houses four electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and has a solar capacity of approximately 60 kilowatts.

Joel Thierstein, the President of WVWC told MetroNews that 60 kilowatts will provide the energy equivalent of the use of six average American homes for a year. The college also said the solar canopy has the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to the output of 13 average American cars for one year.

“We try to maintain our level of excellence, being at the forefront of technology. One of those things is being at the forefront of energy technology,” Thierstein said of the benefits to the college.

“This helps us to do that and helps us power a good portion of our performing arts center.”

The performing arts center is now the second facility on campus to have solar power, joining the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library.

The solar canopy was made possible by a gift from Charles ‘Chip’ Pickering, PE, Ph.D. class of 1978 and Pickering Energy Solutions.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program provided a federal grant to incentivize the investment by Pickering and Pickering Energy Solutions, according to a WVWC release.

“We have been very blessed over the years to be supported by a number of energy sectors including coal, gas and oil. Now we are part of the solar business and it’s really exciting,” Thierstein said.

Keri Dunn of Pickering Energy Solutions, Kris Warner of the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development and Robert Fernatt of the West Virginia Electric Auto Association joined Thierstein for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The canopy structure was designed and engineered by Pickering Associates of Fairmont, fabricated by Southern Steel Products of Clarksburg and erected by TKS Contracting of Buckhannon. The solar array was installed by the Appalachian Renewable Power Systems of Stewart, Ohio.

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