Phelps County Bank’s downtown Rolla location is now drawing some of its power from the sun – thanks to a partnership between the bank and Missouri University of Science and Technology. The historic four-story building at 718 N. Pine was once the Edwin Long Hotel and has been the home of Phelps County Bank (PCB) for more than 50 years. The bank officially dedicated its “solar drive-thru” this week with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Missouri S&T researchers and students worked with PCB for several months to measure sunlight and shading patterns on the drive-through roof. The researchers, local engineers and electricians used that information to design a solar-powered energy system for Phelps County Bank. That system now provides electricity for the ATM machine, lighting and other electric systems at the drive-through.
“Phelps County Bank has a strong interest in renewable energy applications, and they approached us for assistance,” says Dr. Curt Elmore, professor of geological engineering at Missouri S&T. He and Dr. Mariesa Crow, the Fred Finley Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering at Missouri S&T, were leaders on the project.
“Since our solar system went live a few months ago, we’ve generated enough energy to power 13,244 lightbulbs for one day” says David Connell, chief executive officer at Phelps County Bank. “It’s the equivalent of 352 gallons of gas. And even on a cloudy day like this, we are generating energy.
“Phelps County Bank sees this as a long-term investment and a unique opportunity to collaborate with Missouri S&T,” Connell adds. “During our first meeting with Dr. Elmore, we discussed realistic expectations. Our installation costs for the solar panel system will slowly be offset by lower utility bills over the next several decades.”
The professors enlisted the help of students from Missouri S&T as well as from other universities who were on campus over the summer as part of a National Science Foundation program. The NSF’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at Missouri S&T focuses on technologies for renewable energy application and management and is under the direction of Dr. Jonathan W. Kimball, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.
“We also want to thank our local experts on the project: Bill Durrett with A.A. Electrical Company and Jeff Medows with Archer Elgin Surveying and Engineering,” Connell says. “We hope to continue this partnership and install additional solar systems at our other locations and stand-alone ATMs.
“Missouri S&T is a tremendous resource for this community and we won’t be shy about sharing our experience,” adds Connell. “Our mission is to be just one of many solar-powered Rolla businesses in the future.”
Contact: Linda Goff, [email protected]