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Contact Info

Brad Petersen
Director of
Communications
1066 ECE Building
306 N. Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 244-6376
bradp@illinois.edu

Contact Info

Meg Dickinson
Communications Specialist
1068 ECE Building
306 N. Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 300-6664
megd@illinois.edu

DCEO grant brings building closer to net-zero goal

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By Mark Pajor, ECE ILLINOIS
July 2, 2014

  • The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has awarded a grant of about $250,000 for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Building photovoltaic array.
  • The project for the panels on the ECE Building is now fully funded. Funding is still being sought for the large array on the nearby parking garage that will bring the building's net-zero energy goal in reach.
  • The photovoltaic array on the ECE Building will be installed this fall.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has awarded a grant of about $250,000 to the Electrical and Computer Engineering Building Solar Panels Project. The DCEO grant brings the project’s funding to its goal of $900,000.

Philip Krein
Philip Krein
“This award gives us the final piece that will let us do the solar panels on the building itself,” said Professor Philip Krein, chairman of the ECE Building Committee.

ECE ILLINOIS is still seeking funding for the large photovoltaic array that will be placed on the nearby parking structure. That array’s power generation, added to power generation from the panels on the building and energy savings from the building’s energy-efficient design, will bring the building’s net-zero energy goal in reach. You can donate a solar panel through the Buy a Bit building wish list.

“We’ll be taking advantage of the ECE Building’s photovoltaic array in the instructional lab course (ECE 469: Power Electronics Laboratory) this fall,” Krein said. The solar panels will continue to be incorporated into classroom use for hands-on teaching and research, and the department has plans for outreach to the greater campus and local communities.

DCEO’s mission is “to provide a foundation for the economic prosperity of all Illinoisans.” The department provided the grant through its Large Distributed Solar and Wind Grant Program. The program supports the development and implementation of large-scale solar and wind energy systems in Illinois.

“We’re very grateful to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for helping us with this piece of the project,” Krein said.

ECE Building roof, where early infrastructure for the photovoltaic array can be seen.
ECE Building roof, where early infrastructure for the photovoltaic array can be seen.
“We want to make sure that we more than earn the opportunity,” he added, “and demonstrate how cost-effective solar is becoming.”

Proving that the ECE Building’s solar panels will save energy and money in the long run was an essential step to earning the DCEO grant. Krein noted that there are some misconceptions surrounding solar resource in Illinois, and some people underestimate the potential for cost-effective solar energy in the state. Illinois has plenty of solar resource, he said, and solar energy is poised for implementation on a wider scale.

The photovoltaic array on the ECE Building will be installed this fall.

“It will be very nice to actually have the panels on the building and proclaim our entire facility finished,” Krein said.

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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