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PASCO, Wash. -- A grant for more than $700 thousand is helping Columbia Basin College go green.

KEPR got a look at the college's new $1 million solar panel project.

CBC Business Director Brett Riley walks to his office. The energy efficient bulbs that light the way are just one of dozens of ways the he's helping the college go green.

"Our sustainability committee is very robust, very active, and very vocal, And the college has been responding to that," he said.

Riley's latest venture to save energy just got the green light because of a $750 thousand grant from the state commerce department. Totaling right around a million dollars, the college has plans to build one of the biggest solar arrays in Easter Washington.

Design plans are already done. And consultants tell us by this time next year, the entire south side of the B building on CBC's campus will be covered with solar panels.

The panels that currently sit atop the building heat the water. But the new array will store energy in special batteries that will power the building and generate enough energy to push some back back into the city's power grid, making it a sort of independent generating station.
All told told, the college will save more than $2.3 million over the next 15 years. Riley says that money will go right back to the students.

"If there's a way that we can improve the classroom experience, whether it's lighting, environmental controls, anyway we can improve the student experience on campus, we'll take that money and return it back to the classroom."

The college just replaced their HVAC system on the W building closest to the airport, which kicks back almost $60 thousand a year. And replacing the reader board on 20th with LED lights saves them almost $2 thousand dollars every month. All ways CBC is leading the charge for going green.

The panels will be installed over the next year. Eventually, the university hopes to power more buildings using solar energy.

CBC's million dollar solar energy project will save big

It will be the biggest solar project in eastern Washington.