TRAC may become solar power lab for CBC students

TRAC might become a working classroom for Columbia Basin College students learning about solar power.

Franklin County is considering adding solar panels to two TRAC buildings.

The plan is to add them to the pavilion and the main expo hall at the Pasco facility, said Troy Woody, TRAC general manager. But he also is looking into a freestanding solar unit.

The system would connect to the current tanks and water heaters, he said.

Silk Road Environmental of Kennewick developed new solar panels that Woody said are less expensive than ones he has seen in the past decade.

Woody said he is working on the idea with Silk Road Environmental, CBC and Franklin PUD. He explained the proposal to Franklin County commissioners this week.

The project would help TRAC decrease its annual gas costs, Woody said. The solar energy would be used to heat water that currently is heated by gas.

Woody estimated the cost of gas for the pavilion would be reduced from $40,000 to $5,000 annually.

The system will heat air as a byproduct, which Woody said could be used to heat the shop.

CBC could the use TRAC's solar project as a working lab for its solar certification program, Woody said. Students would get practical experience and would install the project and perform maintenance.

CBC has said it is willing to have its grant writing staff help the county secure grant funding for the $600,000 project, Woody said.