Government

Solar panels go up at new Indian Creek Nature Center building

Space to be fully powered by sustainable energy sources

Alan Carlson, millwright superintendent for Brecke Mechanical Contractors, checks the alignment of solar panels at India
Alan Carlson, millwright superintendent for Brecke Mechanical Contractors, checks the alignment of solar panels at Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids on Friday, July 15, 2016. The center’s solar energy system will have 420 panels totaling a 105 kilowatt capacity, providing 100 percent of the energy needed on-site. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — More than 300 solar panels installed Friday afternoon began to catch the sun’s rays and transform them into the energy for Indian Creek Nature Center’s new sustainable building.

The rows of solar panels sit near the new Amazing Space, a sustainable building set to open in September about a half a mile from the existing center. Two rows of solar panels will go on the roof of the Amazing Space as well.

The system, which will produce 105 kilowatts of power, was funded by Alliant Energy. Alliant spokesman Justin Foss said the company helped to ensure the sustainability of the Amazing Space, but also will use the experience to learn more about the efficiency of solar energy systems.

The panels help ensure the Amazing Space is a net zero building, fully powered by solar energy. This is Alliant’s first solar power system that connects to the power grid. When the panels generate more energy than the users consume, the excess energy travels onto the grid.

Data gathered through system monitors will be displayed on a computer in the Amazing Space where visitors can learn about sustainability. Foss said he hopes it inspires kids.

“That’s the whole point, that teaching and understanding,” Foss said. “We’ve been using coal for more than a century. We’ve got that down to a science. It’s time to learn this.”

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