MxCC of­fi­cials un­veil new cam­pus so­lar en­ergy sys­tem

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - BY PRESS STAFF

MIDDLETOWN — Mid­dle­sex Com­mu­nity Col­lege un­veiled a so­lar en­ergy sys­tem dur­ing a rib­bon-cut­ting event Thurs­day at­tended by Mark Ojakian, pres­i­dent of the Con­necti­cut State Col­lege and Uni­ver­si­ties sys­tem, and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the col­lege, CSCU cen­tral of­fice, Sunlight So­lar En­ergy, and Middletown of­fi­cials.

The new en­ergy sys­tem will re­duce MxCC’s re­liance on util­ity-gen­er­ated power and is ex­pected to off­set about 8.5 per­cent of the an­nual elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion on cam­pus, sav­ing an av­er­age of $11,000 per year over the next 20 years, ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease.

“This project is a great ex­am­ple of how a pub­lic and pri­vate part­ner­ship can work. Big­ger and bet­ter things can hap­pen when you work to­gether for a com­mon goal,” and ev­ery dol­lar saved at a col­lege can go to stu­dents in other ar­eas, as stu­dents are my pri­or­ity,” Ojakian said in a pre­pared state­ment.

Con­struc­tion for the ground­mounted so­lar en­ergy sys­tem be­gan ear­lier this year and to­tals 355 so­lar pan­els lo­cated be­hind Founders Hall on the Middletown cam­pus. In­stalled by Sunlight So­lar En­ergy of New Haven, the 120.4kW DC power sys­tem was en­er­gized dur­ing the past week, the re­lease said.

“The sys­tem’s to­tal an­nual pro­duc­tion is 164,100 kilo­watt hours and is es­ti­mated to off­set 42 tons of CO2 emis­sions — that’s the equiv­a­lent of driv­ing over 100,000 fewer miles in your car, or car­bon se­questered by 49.5 acres of US forests in one year,” Bren­dan Smith, de­sign man­ager at Sunlight So­lar En­ergy, ex­plained in the re­lease.

In 2015, for­mer MxCC Pres­i­dent Anna Was­escha spear­headed a sus­tain­abil­ity ef­fort with the col­lege’s first cli­mate ac­tion plan that was the in­spi­ra­tion for the statewide so­lar en­ergy project. CSCU then en­tered into 12 power pur­chase agree­ments to pur­chase 100-per­cent green so­lar elec­tric­ity at a fixed dis­counted rate at nine of the CSCU in­sti­tu­tions, ac­cord­ing to the col­lege.

CSCU and MxCC also part­nered with Con­necti­cut Green Bank and Onyx Re­new­ables for the project. MxCC paid not­ing up front for the sys­tem and pur­chases only the power gen­er­ated. The cost of so­lar power is less than the cost of power from a util­ity com­pany and is at a fixed rate for 20 years, en­sur­ing an in­crease in sav­ings as the cost of Con­necti­cut grid power in­creases over time.

“This is a long time com­ing, and it’s amaz­ing,” Christine Witkowski, an en­vi­ron­men­tal science pro­fes­sor at MxCC, said in the re­lease. “It is also a great op­por­tu­nity for stu­dents to learn from the so­lar pan­els. We al­ready had classes out here mea­sur­ing and study­ing them.”

Sev­eral stu­dents from her classes also at­tended the rib­bon-cut­ting cer­e­mony, in­clud­ing Ni­cholas Net­tis of Middletown. “We learn about every­thing in class from pol­lu­tion in wa­ter to re­new­able en­ergy, which I think is a good thing,” he said.

For in­for­ma­tion, visit mxcc.edu/ sus­tain­abil­ity and sun­light­so­lar.com.

Con­trib­uted photo

Mid­dle­sex Com­mu­nity Col­lege un­veiled a so­lar en­ergy sys­tem dur­ing a rib­bon-cut­ting in Middletown Thurs­day.

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