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Catawba College to Host Public Panel on Renewable Energy March 15

March 12, 2022

Category: Environmental Science, Events

The Center for the Environment and Department of Environment and Sustainability at Catawba College will co-host a "Solar Energy in NC: Promises and Pitfalls in the Decade of Action" public panel on Tuesday, March 15th from 12:00 p.m. noon to 1:00 p.m. in the Hurley Room on the ground floor of the Cannon Student Center.

The event, presented both in-person and virtually, will focus on solar energy in North Carolina and specifically at Catawba College. The event will be moderated by Center for the Environment Executive Director John Wear with three guest panelists: Mike Nicklas, Lane Wallace and Latham Grimes. 

Mike Nicklas, Founder and President of Innovative Design, is a founding member and later Chair of the North Carolina Solar Energy Association, and twice Chair of American Solar Energy Society. Through his retirement in 2021, Innovative Design was responsible for over 4,800 energy-efficient, environmentally-sound solar buildings that are currently saving the equivalent of 130 megawatts of peak electricity and reduced client’s energy bills by $11.2 million annually. Over the years, the firm has cut CO2 emissions by 1,540,000 tons.

Lane Wallace, VP of Development at Nest Homes, works to create healthy, sustainable businesses, developments and buildings while reducing our impact on the planet and natural resources. Wallace’s work over the years as an independent energy & sustainability consultant allowed her to dive into corporate America's energy use, taking on corporate clients like Staples, Dress Barn, etc. Locally, she enjoyed driving the charge for rooftop solar adoption through the 2014 Solarize Salisbury-Rowan Campaign.  

Latham Grimes, Principal at Oakhurst Energy, is a developer & attorney with nearly a decade in utility-scale solar development and over twenty years of legal and real estate experience. From 2015 to 2019, Latham originated and developed utility-scale solar projects as a partner in Cooperative Solar. From 2012 to 2015, as the General Counsel of Strata Solar, he was responsible for the financial closings of over 500 MW of solar projects totaling almost $1 billion. Latham is also a hands-on minority investor in solar companies with other areas of focus, including operations & maintenance, sheep grazing, aerial drones and utility-scale development in MA/NY/IL.

The panel will address the past and future of renewable energy at Catawba College and in the region. Catawba has a long history as a leader in environmental sustainability. The Center for the Environment recently celebrated its 25th anniversary and has served as a regional leader in addressing the state’s environmental issues. The college has taken numerous steps to reduce environmental impact such as green buildings, using innovative technology to heat & cool our buildings and more. In the mid-2010’s Catawba completed two major solar projects, adding solar electric systems and solar water heating systems as well as energy efficiency upgrades. At the time it was completed in 2016, Catawba had installed nearly one megawatt of solar electricity which was the largest such installation among all colleges and universities in North Carolina. An analysis in 2019 showed a reduction over 5 years’ time of 9.1% in total electricity use (kilowatt hours) across campus as well as a reduction in natural gas consumption. It is estimated, the College has accrued savings of more than $400,000 in utility fees and substantially reduced its carbon emissions. 

Join the solar panel virtually on March 15th via the link below:

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