Stonehill College Takes Campus Solar Plan to New Heights

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Stonehill College deploys one of the largest solar installations on a college campus in New England: a 2.7MW pole-mounted solar array that will cover 20% of the colege’s electricity use. The solar array, the first phase of a plan that will ultimately include rooftop installations across campus and other potential projects, is expected to help the college save an estimated $3.2 million over 15 years. 

Stonehill College, a private liberal arts college in Massachusetts, is deploying one of the largest solar installations on a college campus in New England: a 2.7MW pole-mounted solar array that will cover 20% of the college’s electricity use. The solar array encompasses 15 acres of land adjacent to the campus, and is the first phase of a plan that will ultimately include rooftop installations across campus and other potential projects. The project is being completed in partnership with solar project developer Solect Energy Development and Stonehill’s energy consultant Power Management Company New England. 

Stonehill College signed a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Marina Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of South Jersey Industries that develops, owns, and operates on-site energy projects. As part of the PPA, Marina leases the 15-acre property from Stonehill, but owns the solar PV system. Marina will sell 100% of the power from the array to the school at a reduced rate. This “behind the meter” usage is expected to help the college save an estimated $3.2 million in electricity costs over the course of the 15-year agreement. Marina is able to benefit from federal tax incentives of 30% of the project cost, and from the sale of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) based on the volume of electricity the solar array produces.

The solar project is a major part of the college’s Stonehill Goes Green sustainability initiatives. These include single-stream recycling, composting, retrofitting buildings with motion sensors and energy-efficient lighting, water conservation efforts, and Freshmen Green Kits that encourage incoming students to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. 

“The solar field is an extension of Stonehill’s Catholic commitment to care for creation and sustainability. It gives further indication of our commitment, on every level, to preserving the resources that are in our care for future generations,” said Reverend James Lies, C.S.C., Stonehill’s vice president for mission.

Scott Howe, Partner at Solect Energy Development, added: “Stonehill is establishing itself as a shining example of how a college can reap the benefits of making a huge commitment to sustainability by using renewable solar energy to power its campus.”