Jul 03, 2023

Klamath Community College receives nearly $1 million grant for solar array expansion and EV chargers

Jun 5, 2023 | Community News, Klamath Falls Breaking News | 0

KLAMATH FALLS — Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) recently announced recipients of its Community Renewable Energy Program grants, awarding nearly $1 million in funding to Klamath Community College for an expanded solar array at its new KCC Apprenticeship Center.

One of 39 recipients across Oregon totaling $12 million in funds dispersed, KCC will receive $999,424 to construct an expanded rooftop photovoltaic array, battery storage system, and inverter to provide supplementary power to the Apprenticeship Center and adjacent electric vehicle charging stations on campus. This expands the number of photovoltaic panels already utilized by the facility, which had its grand opening last month after a multi-year fundraising and construction effort to complete the $11.5 million structure.

Once completed, the rooftop solar array at KCC's Apprenticeship Center is estimated to be able to produce 500 megawatts annually via 744 photovoltaic panels. This greatly expands KCC's solar energy generation capacity, provides on-campus energy storage, and improves emergency power resilience for essential community and regional partners – including the potential of serving as a basecamp of operations for public safety responders during emergencies. KCC previously served as base camp of operations during the 2021 Bootleg Fire.

The KCC Apprenticeship Center serves as a hub of skilled workforce training, a key to regional growth and infrastructure development for the Klamath Basin and beyond as demand continues to grow for skilled labor – particularly in construction.

Programs already underway at the KCC Apprenticeship Center include manufacturing-related apprenticeship programs such as welding, carpentry, cement mason, drywall, electrical, interior/exterior specialist, millwright, painter, and plumbing. Additionally, the facility is also utilized for fire and emergency response, criminal justice and law enforcement, commercial truck driving, heavy equipment training programs, and KCC's High School Equivalency Program (HEP). Additional programs to utilize the facility are also in development, such as the planned 2024 launch of a well drilling specialist program.

Construction of the solar addition is expected to begin in early 2024, and operational by that summer. The addition of the expanded solar and storage system also provides an avenue for potential future development of related technical workforce training through KCC.

The Community Renewable Energy Program was created by the Oregon Legislature in 2021 to support projects outside Portland city limits, with a total budget of $50 million. ODOE awarded $12 million in grants in 2022, and will make additional rounds of funding available through 2024.

Other regional recipients of grant funding include net-metered solar for Bly Water and Sanitary District, and geothermal well expansion in Lakeview.

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Klamath Community College has received a nearly $1 million grant for solar expansion at its Apprenticeship Center to provide supplementary and emergency power and support adjacent electric vehicle charging stations.