SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

May 6, 2014

College shines spotlight on solar canopy

BEVERLY — It’s being called the largest solar canopy in the state — at least for now.

Endicott College yesterday showed off a new, 3,000-panel solar canopy that covers a 255-space parking lot on a rocky outcrop of the scenic campus.

Officials said it’s the largest of its kind in Massachusetts, although that distinction is likely to be surpassed soon due to the proliferation of solar projects throughout the state.

“This is a really impressive project,” said Mark Sylvia, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.

The canopy produces 945 kilowatts of power, enough to supply electricity for three dormitories, or 7 to 10 percent of the college’s electricity supply.

It’s actually been operational since January, but state officials used the canopy as a backdrop to announce the second phase of a state program that helped to make the project possible and is expected to launch soon.

The program establishes solar credits that utilities are required to purchase. Those incentives have helped the state “blow by” Gov. Deval Patrick’s goal of growing the amount of solar power in the state to 250 megawatts four years early, according to Sylvia.

“We’d like to see more of these,” he said, looking up at the canopy overhead.

The canopy is owned and operated by SunEdison, the private company that built it and reaps the benefits of the solar credits, as well as federal tax credits. SunEdison built the canopy at no cost to Endicott College, which pays only for the electricity that it generates, at a 20-year fixed price.

A SunEdison official declined to say how much the canopy cost to build. Sarah Creighton, Endicott’s director of campus sustainability, said the price tag was “several million dollars.”

Endicott purchases the electricity through another company, nonprofit PowerOptions, which buys energy for 500 nonprofits and government entities in the state.

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