ASHLAND, KY (WOWK) Solar energy is becoming increasingly popular all across the country. Aside from saving you money, it’s also creating jobs for those who install and maintain solar-related devices.

The Ashland Community and Technical College have been awarded a $75,000 grant from America Electric Power to go toward education on solar energy.

This is an exciting time at ACTC for electrical students to come and learn. this will enhance our electrical program in many different ways. Such as our circuits classes, our construction classes, our already in place solar class that we’ve been trying to advance.

Jesse James, ACTC electrical program coordinator

While the college already offers several courses pertaining to solar energy, the new grant will allow the staff to purchase a “solar Smartflower.”

The new machine is a ground-mounted solar system with a tracker acting much like a flower, opening 12 solar “petals” at the beginning of each day. The “petals” generate electricity in daylight hours, then close down at night.

The staff has worked with the students on solar and wind energy in the past with the advantage of solar panels and wind turbines on campus.

With the new machinery, the students can learn about the cutting edge technology and be better prepared for a career in solar energy.

The current pandemic put a wrench in the program but the electrical program coordinator, Jesse James say right now they have two possible locations ideal for the project.

One location would be on the front lawn of the campus “where it can be seen.” The other option would be somewhere behind the campus building.

The machine will not only benefit those enrolled in the course. Students with electric cars will be able to plug up and charge while they’re in class using the machine’s charging outlet.

For the teaching staff, this machine is a new territory that may take some time to adjust to.

It’s a very new area. There are not very many other renewable energy or solar, wind turbine training facilities, especially in this area.

Matt Pfau, solar Vaultek/electrical instructor

The timing of the project is still up in the air due to health restrictions, but they are hoping to start construction this Fall. To find out more about the program, click here.