INA, Ill. – The price for Rend Lake College to go green with eco-friendly heating and cooling was marked down today by the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives and a GeoAlliance grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.
The AIEC officially delivered a $9,100 grant today to help RLC complete installation of a geothermal system in the RLC Sports Center on campus. The system has been efficiently cooling the facility for weeks now.
RLC President Charley D. Holstein, along with RLC Foundation CEO Pat Kern and Physical Plant Director Randall Shively, met today at the Sports Center with Nancy Nixon, marketing administrator with the AIEC, Tri-County Electric Cooperative Manager Marcia Scott and Member Services Director Bruce Barkau, and Electro Electric Inc. President Stephen E. Taylor.
Holstein said the college is “very thankful” for these organizations and their guidance.
“Our college is fortunate the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation and those involved in the GeoAlliance had the vision to identify public institutions that are members of electric cooperatives as candidates for assistance. This grant, along with $25,000 in project funding from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, is going a long way to abate our capital investment, which in turn eases the burden on local taxpayers for this much-needed improvement to this facility.”
The DCEO grant was facilitated by the support of local legislator Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton) and went a long way toward geothermal being a viable option, Holstein added.
Geothermal heating and cooling was installed in two phases at the roughly 18,500 square-feet Sports Center where a number of the college’s athletic programs, as well as young local athletes in the community, go to train. The most recent phase added a fourth, and final, six-ton unit for the 10,000 square feet in phase two.
“Geothermal heat pump systems use the earth’s natural energy and that’s why they are so efficient and so inexpensive to operate,” Nixon said. “During cooling months, heat and humidity from inside a building is transferred into the earth through tubing in the ground. During the heating months, the process is reversed. There is no combustion ... a modest amount of electricity is used to operate the circulating pumps, fans, controls, and compressor ... the major components.”
Nixon added that geothermal systems are considered the most energy-efficient available with owners realizing savings of 50 percent or more. Besides lowering monthly bills, this system heats, cools and dehumidifies for a comfortable environment, comes with long warranties from being very durable, and is small and quiet.
“It makes about as much noise as a deep freeze,” Taylor said. His company, Electro Electric in Flora, was responsible for installing the system at the Sports Center. “The same water, in a closed loop, is recirculated so it’s not using up anything from the environment ... not burning any fuels.” Holstein said, ““This project helps RLC reduce its carbon footprint as a college and the savings that develop make geothermal a cost-conscious approach to our commitment of being an affordable place of learning with the environment in mind.”
The ICECF invests in clean energy development and land preservation efforts throughout Illinois. Its executive director, James Mann, expressed his appreciation of AIEC and RLC leaders on this effort, saying the college will benefit from improved comfort and reduced cost and energy use.
“At the same time, organizations like Rend Lake College can offer their peers and the wider commercial sector proof of the energy and maintenance savings during a building’s life-cycle.”
Information on the ICECF’s grant programs can be found on their website atwww.illinoiscleanenergy.org.
For more about RLC, visit online at www.rlc.edu.