Construction will begin within the month on an array of solar panels that will power Emory & Henry College’s radio station, WEHC 90.7, making it the first solar powered FM station in the southeast.
Two rows of 96 panels will be assembled on the south-facing slope below the station’s transmission tower, which is located near Exit 26 along Interstate 81. The panels will produce 75 percent of the power needed to run the transmitter, which currently broadcasts to a five-county area in Southwest Virginia.
With this new energy source, WEHC becomes the second radio station on the east coast to be juiced by solar energy.
This makes a big statement.With solar panels aligned along the interstate powering the College’s radio station, Emory & Henry will be conveying to a very large audience the benefits and accessibility of renewable energy.” Teresa Keller Professor of Mass Communications at Emory & Henry who has led efforts to develop and expand the radio station
The cost of the panels is estimated at $80,000, with half of the expense met by the College and the other half coming from a grant from the Jesse Paul DuPont Foundation. Ecological Energy Systems out of Bristol, Tenn., will provide the panels and place them.
The solar array is the latest of several major construction efforts at the College to improve energy efficiency. Prior to this project, the College undertook more than $50 million in construction and renovation of buildings, all aimed at achieving significant energy efficiency in design.
“Emory & Henry is a leader in energy efficiency,” said Ed Davis, chair of the Geography Department at Emory & Henry. “From recycling to building design to renewable energy, we are moving forward aggressively with our plans to be a carbon neutral community and to be an example to our students and our region when it comes to the environment.”