Largest College Solar Installation in North America Coming to Mercer County Community College’s Campus
West Windsor, NJ: Through the Mercer County Improvement Authority (MCIA) and Mercer County’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Sustainability, and as part of the county’s Renewable Energy Initiative, construction will begin this fall on a 43-acre solar farm on the West Windsor Campus of Mercer County Community College (MCCC).
On September 13 the MCIA selected SunLight General Capital as the solar farm’s contractor. SunLight General Capital has an excellent track record nationally. SunLight’s system will provide the equivalent of a reduction of 9,010 metric tons of CO2, annual greenhouse gas emissions of 1,767 passenger vehicles, carbon sequestered annually by 89 acres of forest preserved from deforestation, and greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity use of 1,123 homes for one year.
Underscoring Mercer County’s commitment to renewable energy, County Executive Brian Hughes says, "Renewable-energy technologies benefit both the environment and taxpayer, and we are thrilled to be on the cutting edge with this cooperative project. While reducing our carbon footprint through use of clean, renewable energy, this exciting venture will create jobs and save taxpayer dollars by reducing energy costs.”
MCCC President, Patricia C. Donohue, said the solar farm moves MCCC forward on many fronts. “The solar farm will save critical dollars and enable us to restore to our budget many cuts in programs and services we have made over the past two years. It also helps us fulfill our sustainability goals. We have committed to the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) with the goal of achieving carbon neutrality.
The consulting team for the project included DeCotis Fitzpatrick & Cole, LLP, Gabel Associates, Birdsall Services Group, and Acacia Financial Group. It is the understanding of the consultants that this will be the largest college solar farm in the country.
This project will provide monitors showing real-time solar radiance, electrical generation and use, and web-based interactive analysis for practical and educational purposes. The company will make industry professionals available to give presentations on solar engineering and science, renewable energy development and financing careers. Students in several of MCCC’s programs, including Solar Energy Technology, Architecture and Engineering, will be involved in each phase of the project as part of their studies.
The college will enter into a 15-year agreement to buy electricity from the solar panel provider, which will own the farm on land leased from the college. The solar farm will be constructed only with products made in the U.S. It will include berms and extensive plantings to hide the system from view, plus perimeter fencing for security. “We are delighted that the solar farm is expected to generate up to 90 percent of the power needs at the college’s West Windsor Campus,” said Vice President Jacob Eapen. Estimated savings will be about $1 million per year.
“This endeavor with MCCC, MCIA and the county builds on a number of energy-efficiency programs and systems already in place,” Hughes says, “including our new LEED-certified County Courthouse, our use of hybrid gas-electric vehicles, our LED light replacement at our airport and at traffic signals, and so much more."
The entire project is scheduled for completion by December of 2012.
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