ME Alumna Developed Northern Colorado’s First PV Solar Grids in ’87, Continues to Drive Sustainability on Campus

Carol Dollard has been involved in promoting renewable energy in Colorado for almost three decades.

A portion of the 10 kW solar plant at the Platte River Power Authority headquarters featured a two-axis tracking system that had both concentrating and flat plate solar panels.

Since 1999, she has been a CSU Facilities Management engineer; she also earned her mechanical engineering undergraduate and graduate degrees at CSU and co-chairs President Tony Frank’s Sustainability Commission. Most recently, in March 2018, Dollard was recognized by the Platte River Power Authority, where she worked for several years, for her role in pioneering the advancement of renewable energy in Northern Colorado.

Carol Dollard (right) and Bill Emslie (left) of Platte River Power Authority, co-instigated the 1987 PV solar grid project.

During her time as a student at CSU, Dollard took an interest in solar energy under the direction of Dr. Allan Kirkpatrick and Dr. Patrick Burns. “I chose CSU because it was one of just a few schools that were teaching solar engineering at that time,” said Dollard.

“Carol Dollard was one of my first graduate students in the early 1980s, and has been a leading voice in the sustainable energy area,” said Dr. Kirkpatrick.

Soon after graduating, Dollard put her passion and skills to work and engineered and managed Northern Colorado’s first PV solar grid in 1987 located at the Platte River Power Authority headquarters. “It was 10kW, which is small in comparison to our current projects. It really shows the progress being made.” She also focused on using that technology on campus. CSU’s first PV Solar Grid was installed on the engineering building in 2009, and since then, 13 additional solar systems have been installed. In total, CSU’s 14 solar systems provide well over 10 million kWh/year. CSU’s long-term goal is a campus that runs on 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and 100 percent carbon neutrality by 2050. “We still have a long way to go to reach the 100 percent renewable electricity goal signed by President Frank in 2017, but are continuing to make strides.”

In addition to solar systems, Dollard was also involved in the development of LEED buildings on campus. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a scorecard for how well a building is minimizing its impact on the environment in terms of energy, water use, waste reduction, and the use of environmentally friendly materials.

Map indicating the locations of all solar systems, LEED buildings, and EV charging stations on CSU’s campus.

Along with robust goals for a greener campus, Dollard also helps promote a wider spectrum of sustainability issues, such as curriculum and research, and economical and social justice as part of the President’s Sustainability Committee. “It is important to remember that they are all equally significant.”