With support from the US Dept. of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) joined TurningPoint Energy, Second Nature, and partnering university teams from Illinois State University, University of Minnesota, and Purdue University in Baltimore, April 3-5, 2016, for the Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference. The University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, Minnesota State University – Iron Range Engineering, Swarthmore College, and the University of Vermont were also in attendance as new university partners, meeting one-on-one with technical experts to define solar opportunities for their campuses. The goal of these new partnerships is to develop campus photovoltaic (PV) roadmaps that will delineate pathways for higher education institutions investing in solar energy.
The gathering kicked off on Sunday, April 3, with a morning Meet & Greet session followed by the afternoon “Ramping Up Renewables” workshop with Altenex, Boston University, and US EPA’s Green Power Partnership. On Monday, MREA, Second Nature, and TurningPoint Energy presented “Developing a Roadmap to Invest in Solar On and Off Campus” and met individually with campus teams to discuss opportunities and barriers to solar development specific to each university.
William Arnett, Research Assistant for Purdue’s Solar Endowment Team who also works at the Purdue Power Plant, noted this of the opportunity: “Meeting with Jared Schoch at SSCC introduced the idea of ‘virtual’ PPAs [power purchase agreements] to the Purdue student team. This option offers flexibility in securing RECs [renewable energy credits] if a utility land leasing option was considered. Before this, the understanding was that the utility would own the all the RECs, which made this option less appealing. With this new insight, the university could potentially allow the utility to build an array on their land, secure a PPA, and purchase the RECs from another area.”
In preparation for the event, MREA and Jared Shoch of TurningPoint Energy hosted a pre-conference webinar on Thursday, March 31, titled “Working with a Solar Developer to Make PV Investments on Your Campus.” In the webinar, Schoch discussed the deployment process and structuring campus solar deployment teams, best practices for project development, and financial investment options available to universities. To view the recording online and download slides, go to www.solarendowment.org/webinars.
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