Diné College adds solar panels to Shiprock campus

May 13th, 2011 | By | Category: 22-4: Honoring Student Success, Tribal College News

SUNNY PROSPECTS. Diné College retrofitted its Shiprock, NM, campus with photovoltaic panels to help offset the college’s utility costs. Photo by Ed McCombs

The Navajo Nation and the Southwest region of the United States are home to 33 coal-fired power plants and thousands of abandoned uranium mines. With extreme summer temperatures and severe droughts, the region faces a serious energy crisis. The Navajo Nation also possesses a wealth of solar power and other renewable resources, according to Diné College Vice President for Institutional Advancement Curtis Ray Benally.

To take advantage of this resource, Diné College installed its first solar project, a 20 kilowatt-photovoltaic array, on the rooftop of its Shiprock, NM building in October 2010. The solar photovoltaic panels will help offset the college’s utility costs in the years to come. The tribal college partnered with environmental organizations and industry, including Honor the Earth, Grand Canyon Trust, Sacred Power Corporation, Tucson Electric Power, and Salt River Project.

In November, the partners gathered to celebrate the Jóhonaa’éí bihánídíín bee (Solar Panel Project). The event included student presentations, workshops, and training sessions on solar power. Diné College plans to integrate renewable and sustainable technologies and resources in its future capital projects and also plans to address these concepts in its academic curriculum.

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