Clearing of the field for the future placement of the solar array
Clearing of the field for the future placement of the solar array
Author: Marshall Green
Date: September 24, 2014
Date: September 24, 2014
Categories: Community|Impact

Photovoltaic System Offsets Half of School’s Electricity, Reduces Energy Costs by 46 Percent

Houghton College today announced that it has broken ground on a 2.5-megawatt (MW) solar energy installation that will provide more than half of the school’s electricity consumption and reduce its energy costs by approximately 46 percent. Expected to be completed in December, this installation will be the largest solar project on a college campus in Western New York and one of the largest in the entire state.

The project was designed and will be built by Borrego Solar Systems Inc., a leading designer, developer, and installer of grid-tied solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, and is financed by General Energy Solutions (GES), a global solar module manufacturer, system financier and owner, through a power purchase agreement (PPA) that covered all upfront costs. The system will generate an estimated 2.9 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in its first year of operation — enough electricity to power 370 homes annually — and allow the college to realize a first-year 23 percent greenhouse gas reduction and save up to $3 million over a 25-year PPA contract period.

“By hosting one of the largest solar projects on any college campus in New York state, Houghton College is not only demonstrating its support for forward-thinking innovation and technology, but also a commitment to long-term environmental sustainability,” said Brian Webb, sustainability coordinator for Houghton College. “This solar facility will allow us to replace fossil fuel-generated electricity with clean, renewable energy straight from the sun. This translates into cleaner air and water, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and a healthier climate for future generations.”

The project has been made possible in part by New York’s solar policies that have supported rapid development through incentives, supportive permitting procedures and other programs to get more solar deployed. This past spring, the State’s NY-Sun initiative awarded $46 million for large-scale solar energy projects through the NY-Sun Competitive PV Program, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Edwin Jou, GES Senior Engineering Manager, said, “We are particularly pleased to work with Houghton College, an institution that has achieved an admirable standard of environmental stewardship. This solar system creates a lasting impact on their community and serves as an example for other institutions.”

“Houghton College has shown commendable dedication to sustainability through its many energy efficiency initiatives, and this solar installation marks a huge milestone in its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint,” said Amy McDonough, senior project developer at Borrego Solar. “The system will provide ongoing economic and environmental benefits to the school.”

For two years running, Houghton College was named by the Princeton Review as one of the top “Green Colleges” in the nation, having implemented multiple conservation and stewardship projects, including a recently announced commitment to reduce the amount of paper used by faculty and staff by as much as 20 percent, and pursuing Tree Campus USA designation by the Arbor Day Foundation in recognition of the substantial efforts made on campus for the good stewardship of trees.