West Virginia Wesleyan College, a Sullivan Foundation partner school, and key partners recently unveiled a solar canopy that will help reduce the school’s carbon footprint and boost its sustainability efforts.

The solar canopy houses four electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and has a solar capacity of approximately 60 kilowatts, which will provide the energy equivalent of the use of six average American homes for a year. In addition, the solar canopy has the potential to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions equivalent to the output of 13 average American cars for one year.

Thanks to the support of the energy sector, including alumnus Charles “Chip” Pickering of Pickering Energy Solutions, “The college is able to expand its solar footprint with the opening of the solar-powered canopy,” Joel Thierstein, president of West Virginia Wesleyan, said.

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Thierstein noted that the solar canopy joins the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library as the second on-campus entity with a clean-energy component. The solar canopy was made possible by a gift from Pickering and Pickering Energy Solutions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provided a federal grant to incentivize the investment by Pickering and Pickering Energy Solutions.

“We are very pleased to be able to support the sustainability efforts of West Virginia Wesleyan College,” Pickering said. “From their recycling programs to energy-efficiency projects, adding renewable energy provides support for the development and focus of the next generation of our future leaders.”

Other participants in the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Keri Dunn of Pickering Energy Solutions; Kris Warner of the USDA Rural Development; and Robert Fernatt of the West Virginia Electric Auto Association.

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“Pickering Energy Solutions is honored to be able to facilitate the use of clean energy and encourage the use of electric vehicles in West Virginia and specifically here at West Virginia Wesleyan College,” Dunn said.

“Having the ability to produce clean, renewable energy in West Virginia is an important asset that helps the West Virginia economy and rural communities by reducing energy costs and saving money that can be utilized in other key areas of the community,” Warner added.

“This is very exciting,” Thierstein later told a local TV station. “The students are excited to see this kind of thing because it means we are on the cutting edge. We are a state-of-the-art campus, and this is evidence that we are.”

This article has been adapted from the original version appearing on the West Virginia Wesleyan College website.

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