George Washington University (GW), American University (AU) and the George Washington University Hospital (GWUH) are to be part powered by an off site solar project in North Carolina.
The 52MW ‘Capital Partners Solar Project’ will generate123 million kWh a year, enough to power 8,200 homes for the Washington DC universities.
From the North Carolina solar plant, GW will receive roughly 86.6 million kWh, AU will receive 30 million kWh and GWUH will receive 6.3 million kWh annually.
The solar power will fufil more than half of GW's and AU's electricity needs, and more than a third for GWUH's.
The Capital Partners Solar Project will install 243,000 solar panels at three sites and is scheduled to be fully operational by 2015, with Duke Energy Renewables to supply energy.
The universities will receive fixed price solar energy, which will be cheaper than traditional sources due to predicted rate rises.
The Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is said to be the largest in the US without the involvement of a utility.
Energy supplier, CustomerFirst Renewables (CFR) organised the unique PPA, and partnership between Duke Energy and the universities.
“Together we have created a blueprint for other large electricity end-users who want access to renewables that can really move the needle,” said Gary Farha, president and CEO of CFR.
Barry Wolfman, CEO and managing director of GWUH said the solar project will “pave the way for a brighter future in the nation's capital and the world as a whole. It's simply the right thing to do, and we are proud to be a part of it”.
The Capital Partners Solar Project is also benefiting the local community in North Carolina. “Our support of solar energy is creating excitement about making investments in our community,” said landowner Jon Crouse.
Crouse will have panels on a quarter of his land, the rest will remain dedicated to agriculture.
“The opportunities the project presents – hundreds of construction jobs, the sale of materials and consumables and an increase in the tax base – are huge for our county. For the landowners and farmers, it enables us to diversify from a fully agricultural portfolio, build economic sustainability and become part of a larger effort to be good stewards of the environment,” said Crouse.
The solar project will assist the universities' environmental goals, continuing a pledge the institutions made with DC Mayor Vincent Gray in 2012 to make DC the greenest college town in the US.