Preserving the Environment

Big, Bright Futures: These Universities Are Tapping the Power of the Sun

June 27, 2014
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Big, Bright Futures: These Universities Are Tapping the Power of the Sun
George Washington University, American University and the George Washington University Hospital have announced a 20-year partnership with Duke Energy Renewables to rely on solar power to reduce greenhouse emissions. Getty Images
It's the largest solar project east of the Mississippi River.

More proof that America’s green revolution is taking off: Three Washington, D.C., universities are using their smarts to go solar—and they aren’t just slapping a few solar panels on the roof.

In a groundbreaking deal, George Washington University, American University and the George Washington University Hospital have announced a 20-year partnership with Duke Energy Renewables to reduce their carbon footprints by harnessing the power of the sun, the Associated Press reports. Fifty percent of the power going to these three institutions will now come from the sun’s glorious rays.

Duke will supply 52 megawatts of green juice that will come from solar farms to be built in North Carolina. To put that number in plain English, that’s the same amount of power used in 8,200 homes every year. This planet-friendly deal will also eliminate about 60,000 metric tons of carbon emissions per year, the equivalent of taking 12,500 cars off the road.

MORE: Will This Be the Largest Energy-Free Building in the World?

Impressive, huh? The deal is said to be the largest non-utility solar photovoltaic (PV) power purchase in the nation, and the largest PV project east of the Mississippi River.

“Thanks to this innovative partnership, the George Washington University will now derive more than half of all its electricity from solar energy,” George Washington University President Steven Knapp said in a statement. “This will greatly accelerate our progress toward the carbon neutrality target we had earlier set for 2025.”

The partnership will certainly save the institutions a pretty penny. According to the AP, since the deal covers two decades of power at a fixed price, school officials hope it’ll save millions as conventional electricity prices rise. George Washington University spent about $13 million last year on electricity while American University spent $5 million.

That’s a lot of money leftover for other projects (may we suggest scholarships, lowered tuition or grants?). Now let’s urge other universities to do the same.

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