Renewable Energy Forerunner Houghton College Installs New York’s Largest College Solar Array

Ribbon Cutting To Coincide With Earth Day Week Celebrations

Houghton, NY April 17, 2015


Houghton College today announces the completion of its 2.5 megawatt on-site solar energy installation, which is currently the largest on a college campus in New York State. The array will provide enough energy to meet more than half of the school's electricity needs, significantly reduce its energy costs and have a long-lasting positive environmental impact.

The system will generate an estimated 3.15 million kilowatt hours of electricity in its first year of operation—the equivalent amount of energy needed to power 370 homes annually—and will allow the college to realize a 23 percent first-year greenhouse gas reduction and save up to $4.3 million during the 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) contract period.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place today at the site of the solar array park — located at the Houghton College Field of Dreams — to celebrate the completion of the system. Special guest attendees and speakers included Houghton College President Shirley Mullen, Director of the NY-Sun program David Sandbank, Congressman Tom Reed, Senator Cathy Young, various state and local officials, Borrego Solar, General Energy Solutions and WGL Energy.

"The solar project reflects both Houghton College's commitment to renewable energy and our commitment to form creative partnerships for the greater good of our region," said Shirley Mullen, president of Houghton College.

The project was designed and built by Borrego Solar Systems Inc., a designer, developer and installer of grid-tied solar photovoltaic systems, and financed by WGL Energy, through a PPA that covered all upfront costs. General Energy Solutions, which provided the 8,568 plus solar panels for the project, was the initial owner of the system, but introduced WGL Energy to the project and subsequently sold it to WGL Energy.

"With this solar installation, Houghton College has taken a leadership role in sustainability in the education space," said Amy McDonough, senior project developer at Borrego Solar. "We commend Houghton for working with Borrego Solar, WGL Energy and General Energy Solutions to take advantage of available financing, technology and New York's net metering policies to secure the long-term economic and environmental benefits that solar can provide for schools statewide."

The new solar facility will allow Houghton to replace a significant amount of fossil fuel-generated electricity with renewable energy. This translates into cleaner air and water, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and a healthier climate for future generations. The installation will offset 2,000 metric tons of CO2 annually, which is the equivalent of taking 421 cars off the road or the amount of carbon sequestered by 1,639 acres of U.S. forests each year.

"We commend Houghton College for reducing the institution's carbon impact while stimulating growth in the solar energy industry," said Sanjiv Mahan, chief operating officer of WGL Energy. "We look forward to completing more projects throughout New York with our diversified offerings across the energy spectrum."

Houghton was awarded funding through NY-Sun, part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative. Through NY-Sun, the state is advancing the scale-up of solar power, moving the state closer to a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. NY-Sun is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

"With this project, Houghton College has shown itself to be a leader in clean energy investment in New York State," said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA. "Earth Day is almost upon us, and this is a good time to think about the value a project like this brings to the state under REV, helping to build an energy infrastructure that is resilient, reliable, affordable and clean."

The project has been made possible in part by New York's solar policies, which have supported rapid development through a $1 billion commitment to solar, supportive permitting procedures and other programs to get more solar deployed.

Houghton College continues to remain committed to environmental conservation through both institutional application and through education. The college recently hosted lectures by Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, one of the nation's foremost climate experts who was named one of Time Magazine's 2014 One Hundred Most Influential People in the World.

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