NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – The Board of Governors of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, today gave the green light for the construction of one of the largest solar canopy energy systems in the nation.
The university will install more than 40,000 high-efficiency solar panel canopy structures over two large surface parking areas on the Livingston Campus. The 32-acres of solar canopies will generate eight megawatts (mW) of power, or approximately $1.2 million in electricity – equivalent to the annual energy consumption of nearly 1,000 households.
“This is an exciting and innovative project that demonstrates Rutgers’ ongoing commitment to energy conservation and environmentally sound practices,” said President Richard L. McCormick. “Rutgers takes environmental stewardship seriously, and the university is proud to be a leader in developing renewable energy resources in New Jersey.”
Solar canopies convert sunlight into electricity. Built over parking lots, they also provide people and cars with shelter from the sun, rain and snow. Light fixtures and security cameras mounted under the canopies can improve nighttime safety.
The $40.8 million project will utilize a combination of federal tax incentives, as well as New Jersey’s Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs). SRECs are tradable certificates that represent the clean energy benefits of electricity generated from a photovoltaic system. The SRECs can be sold to electric suppliers to provide a source of revenue to the university.
Through a competitive procurement process, the university will select a third-party project lessor to underwrite the cost of the construction. That party would be responsible for the upfront costs of the project, own the solar canopies and be able to take advantage of federal tax incentives. The university would make lease payments to the owner and be responsible for maintenance of the facility, but Rutgers will have rights to all the electricity generated by the project and the SRECs produced by the system. At the end of a 15-year lease term, Rutgers would purchase the facility at a fair market value – an estimated $3.6 million.
The combined value of the SRECs and electricity savings are projected to net Rutgers $28 million over a 20-year period, exceeding all costs to the university.
The solar canopy project, which will be constructed at the Yellow and Green parking areas near the Rutgers Athletic Center and at Lot 105 (adjacent to the Livingston Day Care Center), is more than four times larger than the facility Rutgers constructed on the Livingston Campus in 2009.
“That seven-acre, 1.4 megawatt facility currently generates about 11 percent of the electrical demand of the Livingston Campus, reduces the university’s carbon emissions by approximately 1,200 tons per year and saves Rutgers about $220,000 in electrical costs annually,” said Antonio Calcado, Rutgers’ vice president for Facilities and Capital Planning. “The solar farm has also attracted scores of visitors – including Rutgers students, faculty and staff – interested in learning about photovoltaic systems and renewable energy.”
Once the solar canopy project is brought on line, the two installations will be able to provide more than 60 percent of the power needs of the Livingston Campus.
Construction of the solar canopies is scheduled to begin this summer and the installation is expected to be completed by summer 2012.
Media Contact: E.J. Miranda
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