Ithaca College embarks on solar project

NY-Sun initiative with NYSERDA supports solar project that will meet 10 percent of campus electricity needs

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and Ithaca College announced that construction is underway on a 2.9 megawatt (MW) solar electric project that will provide enough electricity to meet approximately 10 percent of the college’s energy needs. The project will produce clean, renewable and sustainable energy for the college, lower its energy costs and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Richard Kauffman, Chair of Energy and Finance for New York State, said, “Increasing the use of solar energy is a critical component of Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy vision, and through our NY-Sun initiative, the State has achieved unprecedented solar growth. I applaud the efforts of Ithaca College, along with those of residents, businesses and organizations across New York, whose solar projects help us achieve our aggressive renewable energy goals, combat climate change and build a clean energy economy.”

The Ithaca College project, which is expected to be completed by summer, will feature a solar array of more than 9,000 panels on 15 acres of land in the Town of Seneca, Ontario County, approximately 40 miles from campus. The solar installation will generate an estimated 3.55 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in the first year of operation, the equivalent of powering 500 average-sized homes in New York. The solar panels will offset 888 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents annually, which is comparable to taking 187 cars off the road.

“This is a significant milestone in the history of Ithaca College, and in our commitment to sustainability,” said President Tom Rochon. “We are proud to be making this tremendous leap forward in environmental stewardship on behalf of our students, faculty, staff and alumni as well as the wider community in which we all live.”

John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA, said, “Through NY-Sun and other clean energy initiatives, New York supports solar and renewable energy projects that advance Governor Cuomo’s energy agenda in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing locally produced power. We commend Ithaca College on its strong commitment to ensuring a clean energy future that will benefit the campus and local community for many years.”

The project received funding through the Governor’s $1 billion NY-Sun initiative, which is designed to build a self-sustaining solar industry in New York and help to achieve strategic energy goals under REV and the Clean Energy Standard, which requires that by 2030, 50 percent of electricity generated in New York come from renewable sources. In this year’s State of the State Address, the Governor announced a goal to deploy solar panels on 150,000 new homes and businesses by 2020.

Partners involved in this project include: Borrego Solar Systems, Inc., Greenwood Energy and OneEnergy Renewables.

In 2007, then-President of Ithaca College Peggy R. Williams signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, pledging that the college would develop a strategy and long-range plan to achieve carbon neutrality. In the fall of 2009, the Ithaca College Board of Trustees approved the Climate Action Plan, setting that strategy into motion and committing the college to becoming 100 percent carbon neutral by 2050.

“This solar power purchase agreement will reduce the college’s greenhouse gas emissions by three percent compared to the baseline year of 2007, completing one of the objectives listed in the Climate Action Plan,” said Gerald Hector, Ithaca College vice president for finance and administration. “We are also excited by the educational opportunities the project will provide, since the system will be available for student and faculty research purposes.”

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Laura Ascione

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