New solar array to produce 10% of Ithaca College's energy
A new solar farm will provide nearly 10 percent of Ithaca College’s energy needs, according to a press release.
Financier Greenwood Energy and installer Borrego Solar Systems today announce the completion of the 2.9-megawatt (MW) remote-net-metered solar array.
The solar farm will generate an estimated 3.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in its first year. That amount is equal to powering the New York campus’ Gannett Center, Dillingham Center and Williams Hall academic buildings, along with the Emerson residence Hall.
“Its conception, commencement and completion serves as testament to the commitment Ithaca College has made to sustainability not just in theory, but in action,” Ithaca College President Tom Rochon said.
Located approximately 40 miles from campus on 15 acres of land in the Ontario County town of Seneca, the solar array is one of the largest for a higher education institution in New York state, according to the release. It will offset nearly 900 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents annually, which corresponds to taking about 190 cars off the road or the amount of carbon sequestered by 727 acres of mature U.S. forests each year.
The project is financed through a Power Purchase Agreement, which covered all upfront costs and allows the college to purchase the solar energy produced from the owner, Greenwood Energy, at a set price over the 25-year term of the agreement through remote net energy metering (RNEM). Ithaca’s project is the recipient of a $1.6 million New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) grant, which was secured through a competitive bid process by the co-developer on the project, OneEnergy Renewables.
The NY-SUN initiative is making it possible for all New Yorkers to invest in solar energy by providing financial incentives and solar-friendly utility programs. One key program utilized for Ithaca College’s installation is RNEM, which allows for entities to install solar at an off-site location and receive credits for the energy fed onto the grid. Thanks to RNEM, the installation will save Ithaca College an estimated $10,000 to $50,000 annually, depending on the future price of electricity.
“By enacting virtual net metering two years ago, New York regulators opened up solar to entities across New York that didn’t have land available on-site to make it a reality,” said Rob Garrity, Borrego Solar project developer. “The program also launched the growth of a thriving solar market that continues to receive support and attention from the governor’s office.”
The primary purpose of the array is to help reduce the college’s reliance on fossil fuels, and to move forward on its Climate Action Plan that was adopted in 2009. That plan called for the college to attain carbon neutrality by the year 2050. This is one of several programmatic activities the college has implemented in recent years as it moves forward with both on- and off-campus initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint. For more information on Ithaca College’s green initiatives, visit http://www.ithaca.edu/sustainability.
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