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MCC's Shah Center hosts Solar Tour to teach residents about solar energy

McHENRY – The Illinois Energy Association held its 10th annual Solar Tour at various locations around the state Saturday, including at McHenry County College’s Shah Center.

At the open house at MCC’s Shah Center, 4100 W. Shamrock Lane, attendees were able to tour the building and learn more about how the sun’s energy helps generate the Shah Center’s heat and power.

The first part of the tour consisted of a brief history of the Shah Center’s solar panel installation. In June 2014, the Illinois Green Economy Network awarded MCC a $250,000 grant toward a 91-kilowatt solar photovoltaic installation. In December 2014, 336 solar panels, installed by Windfree Solar, became fully operational.

Windfree Solar President Doug Snower said the building’s solar panel maintenance has been minimal since installation was completed.

“These are great investments with environmental benefits, and they’re just honestly cool,” Snower said.

The tour also gave attendees a general perspective on the costs, processes, economic benefits and environmental benefits of converting to solar energy. Visitors got to check out MCC’s energy dashboard, which keeps track of how many kilowatt hours the solar panels produce on any given day and how much money they would save. For instance, the dashboard showed that in September the panels produced 10,533 kilowatt hours for the building.

MCC sustainability director Kimberly Hankins, who helped guide the open house, said this is the Shah Center’s first year joining the statewide event.

“This event is just a really nice opportunity for people to learn more about solar energy,” Hankins said. “And I’m always available to give a tour. So if anyone calls me at the college, I’m happy to meet them out here anytime.”

The Shah Center was just one of more than 130 Illinois buildings that took part in this year’s Illinois Solar Tour.

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