Camp McDowell

Energy Audit and Solar Feasibility Study 

About the Facility

Camp McDowell is the camp and conference center of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama and was established in 1923. It is located in Nauvoo, Alabama. The camp is comprised of 80 buildings and can accomodate more than 780 overnight guests. The directors of the camp chose to engage Sain Engineering Associates, Inc. (SEA) to conduct a feasibility study for 100 kW of Solar Photovoltaic array with an opportunity to document low cost energy efficiency opportunities on the campus. 

 Solar Analysis 

A third party previously recommended a 100 kW solar PV array to Camp McDowell as one of multiple energy sources to be considered in meeting the camp’s vision of becoming a Net-Zero Energy Campus. SEA’s analysis is based on the feasibility of the recommended 100 kW solar PV array. SEA engineers visited Camp McDowell to determine the optimum location and system type for this solar PV array. Feasibility for a solar array is dependent on the following factors: 

  • System selection 
  • Location 
  • Generation capacity 
  • Cost 
  • Funding 

After a thorough investigation of each factor, SEA determined that a ground-mounted array on one of three flat, open locations could generate 163,000 kWh annually, or 12% of estimated electrical consumption. This could save the camp approximately $16,700 in utilties each year. 

 Low Cost Energy Efficiency Opportunities 

SEA also identified several low cost energy efficiency improvements during the one-day site visit. 30 buildings were assessed to seek opportunities for utility savings by making simple changes. Building types investigated included cabin and dormitories, chapels, recreation areas, an infirmary and meeting halls with small kitchens and restrooms. Recommendations, included: adjusting lavatory flow, replacing insulation, turning off day-burning lights and installing door seals.

 Net-Zero Energy Campus 

Camp McDowell ultimately wishes to become a Net- Zero Energy Campus. To address the 88% electrical consumption remaining after installation of a solar array, SEA recommends developing an Energy Master Plan. This plan will include future generating options, consideration for baseload generation, energy efficiency awareness promotion, and the impact of purchasing and maintaining existing electricity distribution assets currently owned by Alabama Power Company. 

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