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Ithaca College solar farm now operational

The farm allows Ithaca College to receive 10 percent of its annual electricity from solar power.

The solar farm at Ithaca College. (Photo: Provided photo)

Ten months after unveiling an ambitious plan to build a solar farm to help power Ithaca College, the school and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority have announced the 2.9-megawatt solar array is now fully operational.

The solar farm, which began operating on Nov. 28, now allows Ithaca College to receive 10 percent of its annual electricity from solar power. The array produces clean renewable power, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps New York achieve its Clean Energy Standard that 50 percent of its electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2030.

"The use of solar energy by Ithaca College is a model for other colleges and universities, and is vital to helping New York achieve Governor Andrew Cuomo's energy goals. I commend the college for its continued commitment to the environment and for setting an example for its students, staff and local community on the benefits of clean energy," NYSERDA President and CEO John B. Rhodes said in a statement. The project uses remote net metering, which allows the college to get credit on its electricity bill over the next 25 years for excess power generated by an offsite system and fed back into the grid. The solar array consists of more than 9,000 solar panels on a 15-acre site in the Town of Seneca, about 40 miles from campus.

The installation will generate an estimated 3.55 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in the first year of operation, the equivalent of powering 500 average-sized homes in New York. The solar panels will offset 888 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is comparable to taking 187 cars off the road.

"I offer my thanks to our public and private partners for helping us make this project a reality. Its conception, commencement and completion serves as testament to the commitment Ithaca College has made to sustainability not just in theory, but in action," Ithaca College President Tom Rochon said in a statement.

The project received $1.6 million in funding through NY-Sun, Cuomo's $1 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar and move New York State closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. NYSERDA administers NY-Sun. The solar farm itself did not require any funding from Ithaca College, and the rate the college will pay per kilowatt-hour is comparable to that of its recently negotiated electricity supply contract, according to a release by the college.

Partners involved in the project include Greenwood Energy, Borrego Solar Systems, Inc., and OneEnergy Renewables. A groundbreaking was held in February and installation was completed in the fall.

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