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The Mountain Institute installs solar array overlooking highest point in West Virginia
The 3.055 kilowatt photovoltaic array is housed on the Center’s Earth Sheltered Office Building, which stands a few hundred feet below Spruce Knob, West Virginia’s highest peak. It was constructed with grant funds from the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation and the donation of a solar panel by the system’s installer, Mountain View Solar.
The Spruce Knob Mountain Center was established in 1972 and serves as a venue for The Mountain Institute’s experiential outdoor learning programs, focusing on wilderness training, watershed monitoring and teacher education. According to Facility Director Dave Martin, “Solar helps us save on energy costs and fits naturally within our mission to empower visitors with a sense of respect for all the resources mountain areas provide.” The system will supply 100% of the electricity to power the Center’s Caretakers Cottage and is expected to save thousands of dollars in electricity costs over its lifetime.
The array consists of 13 American-made solar photovoltaic panels, each capable of producing 235 watts of power. The system ties directly into the utility grid and does not require battery storage. It also features real-time energy monitoring, allowing virtual access to data quantifying daily energy production and associated environmental benefits.
The original system design had called for 12 panels; however, Mountain View Solar of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia offered to donate an extra panel to increase system size and power output. Colin Williams of Mountain View said, “We are happy to partner with The Mountain Institute and donate a solar panel to support education and environmental stewardship in West Virginia.”
The solar installation follows the recent completion of a 3.12-kilowatt solar array atop the Farmers Market in Morgantown, West Virginia and is part of a series of projects designed by The Mountain Institute to mitigate rising energy costs, empower local economic development and help protect natural resources.