Penta Career Center installs solar farm

Published: Jun. 6, 2020 at 6:37 PM EDT
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When you drive down Interstate 75, it is hard to miss this construction project on the west side of the expressway near Buck Road.

"I don't know the number of cars and trucks that pass by our facility everyday on 75," Penta Career Center Superintendent Ed Ewers said. "But that question of, 'What is that?' Right? 'What is going on there?'"

There is Penta Career Center.

What is a five-acre solar farm on campus.

"This is a next level opportunity for kids to interact with the field," Ewers said. "To interact with those pros and really to see what that looks like. The opportunities are really endless for our kids."

The solar array on the south side of the building will help Penta pay some bills. These panels will help generate 57.9 percent of the power needs on campus.

"While it may not have been a driving factor in the original decision making of this project, clearly when you think about what will happen next this is a huge advantage for us," Ewers said.

GEM Energy from Walbridge is the company installing these solar panels.

"There is not a lot of state incentives, not a lot of federal incentives," GEM Energy Director of Solar Jason Slattery said. "The beauty of this project is we are still able to attract investors to make it financially feasible for Penta to leverage solar."

Ninety percent of the parts for the project come from the United States. Some of these parts come from as close as Ridgeville Corners in Henry County or even the panels from down the street at First Solar.

"This kind of spotlights the solar capabilities in this region," Slattery said. "We have a panel manufacturer which is best in class. We are a solar developer. We're installing this with local union trades that are skilled labor."

It is a big circle for everyone involved in the project.

Programs from Construction Electricity to even math can use this as part of its classroom experience at Penta. On the other end, this knowledge may lead to jobs with GEM Energy or Rudolph Libbey.

"These are the jobs of tomorrow," Slattery said. "Penta is doing a great job to demonstrate that."