SPRINGFIELD, Mo (AP) – Officials at Missouri State University have stalled a solar energy project students had planned for more than a year that was to be funded through a student-paid sustainability fee.
The students spent 18 months devising a way to put solar panels on top of Meyer Library on the Springfield campus. The project was approved by student groups and would be funded by $2 per semester student sustainability fee. However, the school’s Planning, Design and Construction Department made changes that greatly increased the cost, which could mean the project is doomed, The Springfield News-Leader reported (http://sgfnow.co/1fq8g2m ).
The limited objective of the project was to provide electricity to power lights on a fountain outside the library.
One of the students, Shane Franklin, plans to meet with the university’s architect in February to see if the project can revived. He said he’s upset that the changes overrode the decisions of students, who pay for the sustainability fund.
“We spent a considerable amount of time trying to engage the community, trying to engage the university,” Franklin said. “It was a major setback.”
Brad Kielhofner, the associate director of the planning department, said the university’s main change was to recommend a way that the solar panels would not sit directly on the roof, to avoid leaks in the future.
“There was no concern about the panels blowing off,” he said. “Let me assure you that we would help the students in any sustainability project at all.”
The original project’s estimated cost was $100,000 to $120,000. Franklin said the university’s proposed change would have doubled the cost.
Kara Andres, chief sustainability commissioner for the Student Government Association, said that after student commissioners approve a project, the cost cannot increase, meaning Franklin could not ask the commission for more money.
“I know Shane was upset, but I do not think the university wanted to deny the project,” she said. “They are hopeful that we can redesign it. They did spend a lot of time trying to figure out how it would work. Maybe next time we can plan it out a little better so we don’t run into those problems again.”