Washington and Lee University has signed an agreement with Secure Futures L.L.C., a solar-energy developer based in Staunton, Va., to install two solar photovoltaic arrays, totaling approximately 450 kilowatts, at two separate locations on the W&L campus.
The first solar array, with a capacity of 120 kilowatts, will be installed on a canopy to be constructed over the upper deck of the University’s parking structure. Lewis Hall, home of the Washington and Lee School of Law, will host the second array, a rooftop installation with a capacity of 330 kilowatts. Scheduled for completion by the end of the year, the two arrays combined will become the largest solar project in Virginia, with enough power to supply the total average annual electricity needs for the equivalent of 44 homes in Lexington.
“This is an important step for Washington and Lee as part of our continuing emphasis on sustainability,” said Kenneth P. Ruscio, W&L’s president. “This is another instance of how we are aligning our institutional practices with what we preach to our students about their duties as responsible citizens and their obligations to future generations.”
When complete, the installations will represent the largest deployment to date of solar power in the commonwealth of Virginia. The roof of Lewis Hall will have 1,032 high-efficiency photovoltaic panels manufactured by the SunPower Corp., and the parking-deck canopy will hold 540 photovoltaic panels made by Sanyo. Washington and Lee has entered into a 20-year power-purchase agreement with Secure Futures to buy the solar-generated electricity.
The University pursued this opportunity, as the latest element in its sustainability strategy, with a clear eye on the economics of the model.
“The use of the Power Purchase Agreement makes this a financially viable project for the University, as it allows the University to purchase the electricity generated from the project at a far more effective cost than had we built and operated the structures ourselves,” Steve McAllister, Vice President for Finance at the University, stated. “In addition the structure of the agreement provides an option for the University to purchase the system at a later date. This option may prove to yield an even larger economic benefit for the University.”
According to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, the largest solar project in the state is currently the 104-kilowatt installation on the roof of the Hartzler Library at Eastern Mennonite University, in Harrisonburg, a project Secure Futures developed in the fall of 2010.
“W&L’s commitment to sustainability and thoughtful leadership will now become even more visible through this project. We’re delighted to support W&L’s leadership in this way,” said Dr. Tony Smith, CEO of Secure Futures.
Washington and Lee has undertaken numerous sustainability initiatives to date across its campus. It also has signed both the Presidents Climate Commitment, an initiative of colleges and universities in the United States, as well as the international Talloires Declaration to incorporate sustainability in teaching, research and University operations. The University has taken campus-wide action in areas including composting, local and organic foods, energy conservation, purchasing, transportation and the management of physical plant. In addition, departments ranging from the University store to printing and copying services have committed to using fewer resources and generating less waste.
The parking-deck canopy system will be installed by Standard Solar of Rockville, Md., while the Lewis Hall array will be installed by Southern Energy Management based in Morrisville, N.C. Secure Futures has formed a subsidiary company, the Lexington Solar L.C., to develop and operate the project.
About Secure Futures
Secure Futures L.L.C. offers clean and affordable solar energy generated on-site to colleges and universities, local governments and other institutions operating in the public interest. Through Solar Power Purchase Agreements (SPPAs), customers can reduce their electricity costs and protect themselves against future price increases from electric utilities without the high up-front cost of installing their own solar power equipment. Secure Futures is based in Staunton, Va., and may be found online at www.securefutures.us.
About Washington and Lee University
Washington and Lee University, the nation’s ninth oldest institution of higher education, is among the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges and universities. It provides a liberal arts education that develops students’ capacity to think freely, critically and humanely and to conduct themselves with honor, integrity and civility. Graduates are prepared for life-long learning, personal achievement, responsible leadership, service to others, and engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society.
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