The Future is Bright
Sustainability center extends beyond campus to bring solar energy to community
When Jennifer Bodine installed solar panels on the roof of her Ogden home in 2013, the research was daunting. What company should she use? How much would it cost? “We had a lot of questions,” said Bodine, a sustainability specialist in Weber State University’s Energy & Sustainability Office. “But in the end, it was worth it. Now we are producing enough energy to cover all of our energy consumption.”
Two years ago, Bodine had to research solar installation herself. Today, residents of Weber, Davis and Morgan counties can gather information about solar installation in a simple, streamlined way through WSU’s new Sustainability Practices and Research Center (SPARC), directed by assistant geography professor Alice Mulder.
In April 2015, SPARC partnered with Utah Clean Energy and the local community to launch the Susie Hulet Community Solar Program, one of the first university-led solar purchasing campaigns. The program helps community members buy affordable residential solar paneling, using bulk-buying power to negotiate significant discounts with a competitively selected installer. The program is named in honor of the late Susie Hulet, a longtime advocate and benefactor of nature and sustainability programs, who worked with Weber State’s Environmental Issues Committee.
“The program has been a great help to community members who wanted to add solar paneling to their homes but didn’t know where to start,” Mulder said. “It has educated people on the basics and benefits of solar power, as well as facilitated the process of actually getting solar panels installed.”