Jim Walker says colleges across the country are signing sustainability agreements and searching for ways to boost green initiatives on campus.
He says some colleges are looking for technologies that will both lend a hand in energy efficiency and keep their wallets full.
“Universities have made a commitment to sustainable practices,” says Walker, Director of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Grid Projects, Ameresco. “One sustainable practice, of course, is to use solar energy.”
Walker says colleges should do their homework before launching right into installing solar.
He says colleges should especially check state regulations and make sure solar technologies are supported.
He says some regulations are stricter than others, and may not permit colleges to power campus with solar options.
“Solar energy is best done in states that offer regulations that support solar energy,” Walker says. “For example, if you think about [a residential solar project], those are regulations you can enter into an agreement with a third party company, where you can buy the power outright or you can have a power-purchasing agreement. In some states, you cannot enter into power purchase agreements. In some states, net metering is not offered. In some states, there is no incentive on property taxes.”
However, Walker says that if solar is permitted on a campus, it can have big benefits for the school, including cheaper electricity costs, the opportunity for energy managers to more effectively handle the school’s power and an increase in annual savings on energy bills.
“We have installed solar PV on a number of colleges and universities across the country,” Walker says. “They’ve received not only economic benefit, but certainly a sustainability goal benefit as well.”
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