Iliana Z. Gamez/The Daily Dispatch
Cochise College and APS held a groundbreaking and dedication of the new solar field that is currently under construction at the Douglas Campus.
The public dedication took place from 10 a.m. to noon. Thursday, May 4 at the solar field site and was open to the public. Nearly 100 people attended the dedication, among the public were Omega Alpha senior students whom received scholarships from Cochise College.
The solar powered HVAC system at Cochise College is the first in Arizona to use a parabolic trough solar collector field to harness the energy of the sun to provide space heating and cooling. The solar field will heat and cool parts of the campus. It is the first commercial solar cooling system in the state, according to APS, which funded the project and will earn environmental credits generated, by the system.
According to Cochise College informants during the first 10 years of operation, funds saved from the solar HVAC system will be returned to APS to help cover the cost of installation. The savings of more than $15,000 annually will then be split between the college and APS. After the 10 years, all the money saved will go directly into college coffers.
The solar project will consist of mirrors that track and collect the sun's energy to heat an ethylene glycol solution which in turn will heat water that will be used to operate the college's central heating and cooling system. When needed for cooling, the hot water will operate the new absorption chiller. The college expects to implement solar heating this fall and cooling next year.