Massachusetts-based Brandeis University has invested in an off-campus solar project that is designed to directly cut the university’s electricity costs and expected to save Brandeis up to $2 million.
The university has teamed up with Competitive Energy Services, Kenyon Energy, Borrego Solar Systems and AEW Capital Management for the rooftop solar array. Under the program, Brandeis will purchase solar energy from a 1.27 MW system installed on the roof of a property in Somerville, Mass., which is owned by an affiliate of AEW Capital Management. Through the utility billing mechanism known as virtual net metering, Brandeis will receive credits on its utility bill for every kilowatt-hour produced by the remotely located installation. The project is expected to be operational in spring 2017.
“We hope this is the first of many opportunities to support new solar developments in Massachusetts and hedge against the volatile, fossil-fuel-based electricity market,” states Mary Fischer, Brandeis’ sustainability manager. “While we continue to investigate long-term, on-site solar for our campus, this agreement is an immediate opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability and fiscal responsibility.”
Fisher says that the system is expected to reduce Brandeis’ energy bill by an estimated $70,000 in the first year and up to $2 million over 20 years.
The solar array will generate nearly 1.6 million kWhs of energy in its first year, enough to provide 3.5% of Brandeis’ energy needs. Brandeis has a 20-year power purchase agreement with Kenyon Energy, a solar developer and financier that will own, operate and manage the facility.
“This project will bring tremendous benefit to Brandeis University,” says Ray Gonzalez, president of Kenyon Energy. “We’re delighted to help diversify the university’s energy consumption, reduce electricity costs and help Brandeis achieve important long-term sustainability goals.”
Borrego Solar, a solar developer, designer, installer and O&M provider in Massachusetts, built and developed the array. Competitive Energy Services consulted Brandeis in its effort to go solar and facilitated the contracting of Borrego Solar and the site it developed for the array.
“Brandeis and Competitive Energy have worked together on energy initiatives since 2013, and this project represents the culmination of months of investigation, analysis and collaboration,” comments Zac Bloom, director of sustainability for Competitive Energy Services.