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3 D.C.-Based Institutions Partner on Nation's Largest Power Purchase Agreement

George Washington University (GW), the American University (AU) and George Washington University Hospital (GWHU) have joined forces to launch a sustainable energy project that will bring 52 megawatts of solar power from North Carolina to the Washington, D.C.-based institutions.

The initiative, dubbed the Capital Partners Solar Project, is designed to show "that large organizations in an urban setting can meet energy needs while significantly reducing their carbon footprints by directly tapping offsite solar energy," according to a news release.

The project is the result of a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Duke Energy Renewables and is the largest non-utility such solar photovoltaic agreement in the United States as measured by contracted megawatt hours.

The project is orchestrated by CustomerFirst Renewables and aims to help the institutions meet sustainability goals without increasing costs.

"Thanks to this innovative partnership, the George Washington University will now derive more than half of all its electricity from solar energy," said GW President Steven Knapp, in a prepared statement. "This will greatly accelerate our progress toward the carbon neutrality target we had earlier set for 2025."

Construction of the first site will begin this summer, with delivery of electricity expected before the end of the year. All sites are scheduled to be fully operational by the end of 2015, with the ability to "generate 123 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of emissions-free electricity per year, drawn from 243,000 solar panels at three sites," according to a news release. "That translates to eliminating roughly 60,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year or taking 12,500 cars off the road."

The annual breakdown of each institution's share of the electricity upon completion of the project includes:

  • George Washington University will receive 86.6 million kWh, comprising more than half its needs;
  • American University will also meet more than half its electricity needs with 30 million kWh; and
  • The George Washington University Hospital will receive more than one-third of its electricity through the project with 6.3 million kWh.

"American University is firmly on its way to achieving carbon neutrality by 2020," said AU President Neil Kerwin, in a prepared statement. "We are home to the largest combined solar array in the District, are resolved to growing green power through our purchase of renewable energy certificates and are now a partner to the largest non-utility solar energy purchase in the United States."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is the multimedia editor for Campus Technology and THE Journal. He can be reached at jbolkan@1105media.com.

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