CHARLES TOWN – American Public University System officials gathered with local, state and national politicians this week for a ribbon cutting to officially mark the opening of the new financial center on the border of Charles Town and Ranson.
The most interesting feature of the new center is its 1,600-panel solar array, which is composed of American-made solar panels and functions as a power-generating facility, an electric car recharging station and a vehicle shelter.
It is expected to produce 480,000 kilowatt hours annually, enough to power 30 homes. During a demonstration on Monday – a cloudy, rainy day – the array was outputting more than 130 kilowatts. It will cover approximately one half of the financial center’s annual electrical demand.
All APUS’s current buildings are certified as LEED Silver — a federally-recognized green building standard — or higher. Officials hope that the new financial center will receive a Gold or Platinum rating.
“Yesterday, people around the world celebrated the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day by reflecting on the importance of sustainable living and embracing renewable energy,” said APUS President & CEO Dr. Wallace E. Boston. “Today, we reaffirm our commitment to promoting a more sustainable future for our students, our communities and our country.”
U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito said she thinks APUS’s new solar array, the largest in the state, represents the kind of corporate commitment to sustainability that will be vital for the country’s environmental and energy future.
“We’ve got a big debate going on in Washington right now about energy and the energy future of our county,” Capito said. “It is hard to envision where we will be at the end of the century, but looking out here … I think you’ve given us a slice of where our corporate responsibility should be and can be.”
Ranson Mayor David Hamill said the new financial center, built on the site of a now-defunct Dixie-Narco factory, would bring new opportunities for the people of Charles Town and Ranson.
“We all remember, those of us who lived here, the pain we felt when Dixie-Narco decided they weren’t going to be part of our community. There were a lot of dreams and hopes that went away when that happened. And when APUS decided that this was where they wanted to be, that this was their future, we were so pleased to be considered as part of that plan,” Hamill said.
“In such a short time, APUS has become such a major and important part fixture of this community, with renovations of many of our older structures as well as new facilities, business growth and employment,” said Donald Clendenning, vice mayor of Charles Town.