Earth Day Program, April 25, to Focus on Solar Energy


Solar energy will be the focus of Earth Day 2001 at Fairfield University as the School of Engineering unveils a major solar energy project and Karl R. Rabago, managing director of the Rocky Mountain Institute gives a keynote address on "National Capitalism and the Future of Solar Energy." The events take place on Wednesday, April 25 and admission is free.

At 5 p.m., the School of Engineering will cut the ribbon at a student residence, Townhouse10, where one of the largest - and possibly the largest - grid-connected residential photovoltaic solar energy conversion in the country has been installed. Designed by a team of faculty and students, led by Dean Evangelos Hadjimichael and joined by a United Illuminating Company observer, the approximately 800 solar shingles making up the roof of Townhouse 10, have transformed an ordinary student residence into its own source of energy with a production level of12.5 kWatts.

Data from this installation will continue to be used by engineering teams to design better electronic controls for more efficient use of photovoltaic energy, Dr. Hadjimichael said. "The hope is that in the future the cost of electricity from solar energy will be financially competitive with electricity produced from fossil fuels."

Mr. Rabago's lecture takes place at 7 p.m. in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, followed by a panel discussion on "Unlocking the Potential for Solar Energy."

Mr. Rabago brings 10 years of national leadership in utility regulation, renewable energy and the vital issues in the rapidly changing electricity industry, especially relating to new distributed energy resources markets and environmental law issues.

As Deputy Assistant Secretary with the U.S. Department of Energy, Mr. Rabago managed the Utility Sector Programs in renewable energy technologies and systems. He was the Energy Program Manager with the Environmental Defense Fund from 1996 to 1998, initiating and managing partnerships between businesses and utilities. As vice president of CH2M Hill, the international engineering and consulting firm, he created an energy services business unit, before being named the managing director of the Rocky Mountain Institute in 1999.

The Rocky Mountain Institute in Snowmass, Colo., is an entrepreneurial, nonprofit organization that fosters the efficient and restorative use of resources to create a more secure, prosperous, and life-sustaining world. Mr. Rabago co-directs the Institute's Natural Capitalism Consulting Practice and conducts energy research, education and consulting.

Panel members include two builders, Parker Coates and Dan Perkins, who have used photovoltaics in their homes; an architect who has integrated photovoltaics into his designs, John Rountree; Dean E. Hadjimichael; Dr. Michael Tucker, professor in the Charles F. Dolan School of Business who teaches environmental economics; Dr. Winston Tellis, acting dean of the School of Business; and Jennifer Granata, a Fairfield University graduate who conducts research and development on photovoltaics for Spectrolab, Inc. in California.

Sponsors of the Earth Day program include Pitney Bowes as major sponsor, the Charles F. Dolan School of Business, the School of Engineering, the Environmental Studies Program, the Environmental Sciences Program and the Department of Physics.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 2, 2001

Vol. 33, No. 174