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MECC Home Craft Days Festival Powered by Green Technologies
Posted Date: 12/3/2012
solar panelsBig Stone Gap, VA. – For the first time in its 42-year history, the Mountain Empire Community College’s Home Craft Days Festival held October 19-21 was powered entirely by solar and wind energy generated on MECC’s campus.

Forty-eight solar panels and a wind turbine were installed adjacent to Dalton-Cantrell Hall in May of 2012 as part of a Virginia Sustainable Energy Demonstration project. The project was funded by an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant administered by the Virginia Department of Mines Minerals and Energy, a Virginia Tobacco Commission grant, and local funds.

MECC Interim Building and Grounds Superintendent Jim Vicars said between May and October 19, the wind turbine and solar panels generated five times the amount of energy typically used for the parking area where the utilities are metered. MECC utilized an estimated 722 kilowatts of reserved energy to power the Home Craft Days Festival, which included a number of food, craft and sales vendors.

“While this is not a large energy use, the important consideration is that the Solar Photovoltaic Array of 48 panels, and to a lesser extent our wind turbine, has produced enough power since May to power the area lighting and tennis courts on the north side of the campus and build a creditable surplus for powering Home Craft Days and have additional credits to be applied to future power consumption,” said Vicars.

“The ‘net’ meter installed by Old Dominion Power allows the college’s system to produce energy during the daylight hours and use power in the nighttime,” Vicars added. “The net result is that the Sustainable Energy Demonstration Project has been producing approximately five times the energy that is being used in this area of the campus, with the Home Craft Days vendors effectively green powered.”

The wind turbine and solar panel system, along with accompanying software that tracks energy production, will also be utilized in MECC’s energy technology certificate program. Coursework in this program includes solar thermal technology, solar power, and wind power generation studies.

Vicars said he is excited about the future use of wind and solar use on MECC’s campus. His hope is to expand the capacity of the system, with a future goal of installing a charging station for electric vehicles powered exclusively with wind and solar technology.

For more information on MECC’s Sustainable Energy initiative, contact Vicars at (276) 523-2400 or by email at

For additional information on MECC’s Energy Technology Program, contact Tommy Clements, Dean of Health Science and Industrial Technology, at (276) 523-7431 or by email at