Clean Energy | News, Sports, Jobs – The Inter-Mountain

The Inter-Mountain photos by Amanda Hayes
From left are Dr. Joel Thierstein, president of West Virginia Wesleyan College; Keri Dunn, operations manager for Pickering Energy Solutions; Robert Fernatt, president of the West Virginia Electric Auto Association; and Kris Warner, state director of the USDA Rural Development cut the ribbon to dedicate the solar-powered canopy at WVWC.

BUCKHANNON — Electric car owners will find four available charging ports under the new solar-powered canopy located at West Virginia Wesleyan between the Welcome Center and the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts.

The canopy was dedicated Thursday with college officials and representatives from the United States Department of Agriculture, Pickering Energy Solutions and the West Virginia Electric Auto Association.

Dr. Joel Thierstein, president of West Virginia College, said, “West Virginia Wesleyan has received support from all aspects of the energy sector. I’m proud to share today that thanks to a generous gift from Chip Pickering, Class of 1978, the college was able to expand our solar footprint with the opening of a solar-powered canopy.

“The solar-powered canopy joins the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library as the two entities on campus with a clean-energy component.”

The solar-powered canopy has a capacity of approximately 60 kilowatts which will help provide energy to the equivalent of approximately six average American homes for a year. It also reduces the carbon dioxide emissions equivalent of approximately 13 average American cars for one year.”


Keri Dunn, operations manager for both Pickering Energy Solutions operations manager and Appalachian Renewable Power who was the installer for the solar canopy here and at the library.

“We first began discussing this sustainability program at the college in 2017,” she said. “After the initial discussion about the roof of the library, we began discussing the topic of a carport structure that could house car charging stations.

“This allows us to better communicate the need of solar energy and renewable energy in West Virginia and make it visible to all of those who visit the campus.

Dunn noted the solar-powered canopy offsets carbon emissions that would be equivalent to planting 55 acres of mature forest land and taking 13 vehicles off of the roads.

The four charging stations are level 2 stations which provide about 100 vials worth of electricity in about two hours, according to Dunn.

“We are very happy with this installation and this ability for the college,” she said. “We are grateful to be a part of this program.”

Kris Warner, state director for USDA rural development, said, “Wesleyan is a partner in helping rural West Virginia realize the powerful impact that renewable resources can provide our great state.”

The $15,590 Rural Energy for American Program grant was used by Pickering Energy Solutions (also known as Solar Energy Solutions), to purchase and install a 30 kilowatt solar array which will create a savings of $3,539 per year, according to Warner.

“That’s equivalent to the amount of electricity used to power three homes,” he said.

Solar Energy Solutions has applied for and received a Rural Energy for American Program Grant each of the last five years, according to Warner.

“Last year’s grant went to the solar array on this amazing carport,” he said. “A carport that can charge four electric vehicles creating a savings equivalent to the amount of electricity used to power six homes for an entire year.

“It is efforts like this one that can assure you that the Trump Administration is working tirelessly to be a strong partner to rural West Virginia by building strong communities. We know that when rural West Virginia thrives, all of America thrives. We are proud to continue partnering with Solar Energy Solutions as they continue their mission to encourage, develop and facilitate the use of solar energy.

Warner presented a certificate to Solar Energy Solutions.

Robert Fernatt, president of the West Virginia Electric Auto Association, thanked everyone who helped make the charging station a reality.

“Electric vehicle drivers of West Virginia thank you,” he said. “In the latest data I have seen from the U.S. Department of Energy, WV has .30 plug-in electric vehicles per 1,000 population. That number may have improved somewhat in the last year or two but it is nearly one-eighth of the national average.

“One large factor behind that low number is the lack of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. The WVEAA is excited to see this new charging station and solar canopy provided by WVWC. The charging station will be a great benefit for WVWC students, faculty and others who attend campus functions here and have electric vehicles to park for a little while to charge them.”

Fernatt also pointed to using the WVWC project to spur other higher education facilities to pursue similar opportunities.

“There are other large schools in West Virginia without any electric vehicles charging on campus,” he said. “Our college and university teams push each other to be better in collegiate sports. Here’s hoping for some friendly competition among schools for electric vehicle charging and renewable energy.”

The canopy was designed and engineered by Pickering Associates of Fairmont, fabricated by Southern Steel Products of Clarksburg and erected by TKS Contracting of Buckhannon, according to a press release. The solar array was installed by Appalachian Renewable Power Systems from Stewart, Ohio.

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