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U Mass System Strikes Deal for Off-Campus Solar Credits

U Mass System Strikes Deal for Off-Campus Solar Credits 

One of the largest operational rooftop installations of solar arrays is helping to save the University of Massachusetts, Boston money on its energy bill, even though it's more than 10 miles away from the campus. The installation uses 11,628 panels with the capacity to generate up to 3.9 megawatts delivering 400,000 kilowatt hours monthly, enough power to remove 817 cars off the road forever.

The university is taking advantage of the solar power savings through an "offtaker" arrangement. In this kind of deal, the producer of a resource sells some or all of its future production to a buyer, who acts as the offtaker. In this case, the seller is Altus Power America, which owns the solar installation and will sell the energy through a virtual "net metering credit purchase agreement." This billing mechanism allows the offtaker to receive energy credits on its utility bill from a remotely located installation that feeds energy into the grid for powering local homes and businesses.

The arrangement was set up by Competitive Energy Services, which has worked with the university on energy-related projects since 2011. According to the university, its five UMass System campuses combined are the largest offtakers of virtual net metering credits in the state. The campuses' total offtake is about 50 megawatts.

Borrego Solar Systems built the array on top of a massive manufacturing and distribution center in the Boston Business Park.

The university's first use of solar energy took place in 2011, where 350 photovoltaic panels were installed on top of a campus building.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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