Daily News

Hampshire College Breaks Ground on 19-acre Solar Arrays

AMHERST — Hampshire College has begun installing 15,000 solar panels on approximately 19 acres of its 840-acre campus, with an eye toward producing 100% of campus electricity from on-site renewable energy on an annualized basis. By its research, Hampshire is the first U.S. residential college to go 100% solar.

Hampshire’s two solar-power systems together will have a generation capacity of 4.7 DC/3.5 AC megawatts, enough to power about 500 American homes. They are expected to avoid the emission of approximately 3,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to taking almost 650 cars off the road. Construction of the arrays, representing the largest-known on-campus system among colleges and universities in New England and one of the largest in the Eastern U.S., is estimated to be completed by the end of this year.

Project partner SolarCity will construct the two photovoltaic (PV) solar arrays, each coupled with a 250-kilowatt (500-kilowatt-hour) battery-storage system. Under the project’s power-purchase agreement, the solar arrays and battery system will be built and operated by SolarCity, and Hampshire will purchase the electricity from SolarCity at a fixed rate that is lower than what the college now pays for electricity. Hampshire estimates it will save up to $400,000 per year for 20 years, up to $8 million total in electricity costs.

Hampshire is part of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, under which the college has committed to implementing a comprehensive plan to achieve a carbon-neutral campus. In implementing its Climate Action Plan, Hampshire is also practicing its mission in the areas of innovative research, experiential education, social justice, forward-thinking operations, and environmental action.

“We’re extremely proud of this commitment to renewable energy, and of the social and environmental benefits it provides to our community,” said President Jonathan Lash. “Despite being a modestly resourced institution, in snow country, we’re going all the way with solar for our electricity.”