Col­lege to use so­lar to save on en­ergy costs

Ar­ray will be built out of county



— Ce­cil Col­lege will be­come the lat­est county or­ga­ni­za­tion to em­brace so­lar power as it be­gins to move for­ward with a plan to use so­lar pan­els to help de­fer elec­tric­ity costs.

The col­lege’s Board of Trustees voted on Thurs­day af­ter­noon to start ne­go­ti­at­ing a con­tract with San Fran­cisco-based NRG


Re­new LLC to pur­chase so­lar power from a so­lar ar­ray that will even­tu­ally be built on the com­pany’s land in Vi­enna. Un­der the agree­ment, NRG Re­new will be re­spon­si­ble for the de­sign, con­struc­tion, op­er­a­tion and main­te­nance of the so­lar ar­ray, which will pro­duce at least 2 megawatts of elec­tri­cal en­ergy.

Once the ar­ray is built, NRG Re­new has pro­jected that the col­lege could save as much as $50,000 a year, said Dan Thomp­son, the col­lege’s vice pres­i­dent of fi­nance.

“From an en­ergy pro­duc­tion stand­point, this would pro­duce about 65 per­cent of our con­sump­tion,” he added.

Though the so­lar pan­els will be lo­cated in Vi­enna, the ar­ray will be hooked up to the Del­marva grid and the col­lege will see the sav­ings as a credit on its elec­tric­ity bill, Thomp­son said.

The col­lege re­ceived seven pro­pos­als af­ter it put out a re­quest for pro­posal (RFP) in March and

in­ter­viewed three fi­nal­ists be­fore de­cid­ing on NRG Re­new, Thomp­son said. Though NRG Re­new is based in San Fran­cisco, the com­pany is global and al­ready has a power plant in Vi­enna.

In ad­di­tion, since NRG Re­new owns the land the ar­ray will be built on and has a con­nec­tion to the Del­marva grid, its pro­posal

was the most fa­vor­able to the col­lege. NRG Re­new was also the only bid­der that pro­posed us­ing a sin­gle axis sys­tem, where the pan­els move to fol­low the sun, which pro­vides more en­ergy pro­duc­tion, Thomp­son said.

“As a com­pany, they’re look­ing to ag­gres­sively put their va­cant land into ser­vice in the re­new­able en­ergy field,” he said. “So they’ve been look­ing at this site for two years and just as they were ready to go to mar­ket, our RFP came on-

line. So the tim­ing worked out re­ally well.”

Once the so­lar ar­ray is on­line, Ce­cil Col­lege will join a num­ber of other county or­ga­ni­za­tions that use so­lar power to off­set en­ergy costs. Ce­cil County Public Schools cur­rently has three so­lar ar­rays lo­cated near var­i­ous county schools and the town of Elk­ton com­pleted a 2.2-megawatt so­lar ar­ray at the in­ter­sec­tion of Route 40 and Land­ing Lane last fall. The IKEA dis­tri­bu­tion plant in Perryville also has a 4.9-megawatt sys­tem

that is owned by the com­pany.

Much of the in­crease in so­lar ar­rays around the county is thanks to Stan­dard So­lar, a Rockville-based so­lar tech­nol­ogy com­pany that has been pitch­ing its power pur­chase agree­ments — in part­ner­ship with SunEdi­son — to county and mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials. Un­der these agree­ments, the public en­tity only pro­vides the land needed for the ar­ray and af­ter­ward reaps sav­ings on its en­ergy costs.

Both Stan­dard So­lar and

SunEdi­son sub­mit­ted bids for the Ce­cil Col­lege job, and Stan­dard So­lar was

among the three fi­nal­ists be­fore los­ing out to NRG Re­new.


A so­lar ar­ray, such as this one at the Ce­cil County School of Tech­nol­ogy, will even­tu­ally be built in Vi­enna and help off­set Ce­cil Col­lege’s en­ergy costs.

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