Ryan Chartrand

The sun cast down favorable light Thursday as Empower Poly Coalition dedicated the new photovoltaic energy system located on the rooftop of the Engineering West building.

The ceremony took place at 11 a.m. on Dexter Lawn. This renewable energy project is the largest in San Luis Obispo County yet. Cal Poly joins Chico State and Dominguez Hills in experimenting with alternative energy among campuses in the California State University system.

Jesse Churchill, the president of Empower Poly, said, “This is the first major project to unveil and a lot more are on the way.”

Empower Poly Coalition began about a year ago after the CSU system adopted a policy drafted by Cal Poly students and faculty. The policy requires all CSU campuses to reduce energy use while doubling on-site energy by 2014 and renewable energy by 20 percent before 2010.

Once the policy passed, Churchill said to make application of the project a reality for students to joined forces and use the power of numbers.

The BioDiesel Club, Environmental Council, Fair Trade Club, Hydrogen Energy Club, Poly Greens, the Renewable Energy Club and Engineers Without Borders are all members of the Empower Poly Coalition.

“We have our own specific focus, but work towards the same goals,” said David Kirk, the public relations coordinator for Empower Poly.

For instance, civil engineering graduate student Shawna Von Stockhausen sat at the Engineers Without Borders booth and shared her experience of traveling to Nicaragua twice already to survey the area and choose a project and site to work. Over the week of Thanksgiving three students, including Von Stockhausen, who is the project manager, decided to build a water storage system for a health clinic. At this moment the team is in the designing stages and plans to return in July 2007.

Mike Marcus, from environmental affairs with Associated Students Inc., said, “It was great that students, faculty and administrators came together to support one goal, especially to support a self-sustaining campus.”

Those who attended included Larry Kelly, from the administration and finance division, and Dan Howard-Greene, the executive assistant to President Warren Baker, who wasn’t able to attend due to a scheduling conflict, but supports the coalition.

Empower is working on creating a resource center in the old power house building where students and faculty interested in the topic can get information and become involved.

Kim Johnson, an architect junior, toured the different club booths because “she is an environmentalist and a little bit of a hippie and wants to learn about how to incorporate green architecture into design.”

Recently, the coalition put together a video for a MTV and GE competition with a chance to win $25,000 used to campaign fundraising. Reconstruction of the old power house is expected to cost between $2 million to $3 million.

Other money-saving items Cal Poly has installed are waterless urinals and different lighting fixtures.

Marcus stated that many opponents say raising money for the above is a waste, but disagrees with them.

“No matter where people are on the political line, we all need energy,” Marcus said.

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