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BHSU Nearing Goal of 100 Percent Renewable Energy
South Dakota Ag Connection - 03/23/2020

Black Hills State University is on pace to generate 1.3 MWh of power annually. This is the equivalent of producing enough energy to power 1,000 homes. BHSU anticipates saving over $100,000 per year when the current installations by GenPro Energy Solutions are complete in Spring of 2020.

GenPro, a full-service energy services company, based in Piedmont, S.D., is currently installing solar arrays on the Donald E. Young Sports & Recreation Center, the Kathryn Johnson Life Sciences Laboratory, the E.Y. Berry Library Learning Center and the Facilities Services Building. When the installation is complete, BHSU will have a total of six buildings on campus outfitted with solar arrays, which with the Campus's current WAPA hydro-power allocations, will make the campus powered by 78% renewable energy.

Black Hills State and GenPro first started working on sustainability initiatives together when they co-hosted a seminar series in 2015 that focused on best practices in energy efficiency and renewables for local businesses. Three years later BHSU's first solar installation came to fruition.

"BHSU first worked with GenPro to install solar panels on Bordeaux Residence Hall in 2018. We wanted to move forward with installing additional arrays on more campus buildings after seeing the energy costs decrease after the solar panel array was in place," said Kathy Johnson, Black Hills State's vice president for finance and administration.

"We are incredibly proud to help our local University obtain renewable energy goals that many large National Universities are still trying to figure out." said Molly Brown, GenPro's vice presient of energy development. "We hope this project will showcase how renewables can be used for both financial savings and as an economic development tool for South Dakota communities."

Not only is BHSU on the cutting edge of solar in the state and the region, there are only approximately 40 campuses in the United States that can claim to be powered 100% renewable energy.

The university also recently installed solar-powered lights along St. Joe Street and Jonas Street in Spearfish. Future plans include a solar-powered carport and energy efficient athletic field lighting.

"Our overall sustainability goals at BHSU are to be carbon neutral by 2050, use only renewable energy, be a zero-waste campus, and build the local food economy," said Johnson. "BHSU is proud to be a leader in sustainability for the region."

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