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Solar Panels Reduce Carbon Footprint and Energy Bill at CU-Boulder

A new array of solar panels installed at the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU-Boulder) has doubled solar power production on campus, providing clean energy for research facilities and saving the campus about $50,000 a year in utility costs.

Developed and built by Panasonic Eco Solutions North America with support from a local solar company the 500-kilowatt system is capable of producing 725,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year, enough to power about 100 average-sized houses.

The new system is the first ground-mounted set of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and the largest on campus, which includes 10 other installations. With the inclusion of the new array, CU-Boulder’s solar panels generate about 1,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year.

CU-Boulder claims to be one of the greenest campuses in the nation, and the installation of the solar panels is a next step in the university's ongoing sustainability efforts, which have spanned six decades. In 2007, the university signed on to the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) for reducing greenhouse gas.

The campus' short-term goal includes achieving the Governor's "Greening of the State Government" executive order of setting targets for energy and water reductions, attaining zero waste, purchasing wind energy credits for new LEED-certified buildings, and reducing petroleum consumption.

"For more than half a century, CU-Boulder has been a leader in climate and energy research, interdisciplinary environmental studies programs, and engaging in sustainability and 'green' practices both on campus and in the larger world," said Moe Tabrizi , campus sustainability director for CU-Boulder, in a prepared statement. "This project complements and extends our commitment to leveraging solar power throughout our campus to provide power in a low cost and responsible manner."

The University of Colorado at Boulder serves nearly 30,000 students on a 786-acre campus in Boulder. It's operating budget for 2012 was $2.9 billion. Visit colorado.edu/cusustainability for more information about the campus' sustainability programs.

About the Author

Sharleen Nelson is a freelance journalist based in Springfield, Oregon. She can be reached at snelson858@comcast.net.

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