Solar, Sourcing Renewables  -  March 8, 2019

Cornell breaks ground on new community solar farm

Cornell University broke ground March 1 on a new 18-MW community solar farm, the school's sixth large-scale solar project.

The project serves as a way to continue reducing the university's carbon footprint, which has already dropped 36% since 2008, as well as promoting renewable energy and low-carbon strategies in the community.

The project will be implemented on a 125-acre piece of nonproducing farmland owned by Cornell, as part of a larger project that aims to install a total of 79,000 solar panels and add 30 GWh onto the grid. Cornell is working in partnership with the developer Solar Farms New York on the project.

"In this project, we double the offsets [energy credits, from 10 to 20%] with renewable energy by bringing the solar farm online, and we did it in a way that opens [available energy] to the community,” Rick Burgess, vice president for facilities and campus services, said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “It’s a real step forward in terms of extending the art of the possible.”

Residential electricity customers will be able to join the community solar farm by signing up for free and may see their electric costs drop by at least 5%.

“We anticipate allocating all of our solar electricity production over the next few months, after which we will start putting customers on our waiting list,” said Jeffrey Mayer, CEO of Solar Farms New York.

The project follows five other solar farms Cornell has created since 2014, totaling almost 10 MW.

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