Houghton College and Smart Energy Capital have signed a power purchase agreement for the college to use solar electricity from a 2.5 megawatt solar system located on campus. Houghton College will establish one of the largest solar power installations in New York State.

It is anticipated that the renewable energy generated by the system will meet over one half of the college’s ongoing electricity demands with an estimated savings of $1.3 million over the 25-year contract. The solar installation will allow Houghton to participate in an instant reduction of 23 percent in greenhouse gas emissions. “The clean energy produced by this array will be the equivalent of burning 1,500 fewer tons of coal annually or removing 400 cars from the road,” said Brian Webb, sustainability coordinator for Houghton College.

“As a signatory to the President’s Climate Commitment, Houghton has committed itself to carbon neutrality by 2050,” said Webb. “This solar project represents our first major step toward achieving that goal.”

This spring New York State awarded $46 million for large-scale solar energy projects through the NY-Sun Competitive PV Program. Houghton will be able to claim carbon reductions through the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates. With improved technology, harnessing solar energy is not only a viable option, but also a financially and ecologically responsible one.

“As Christians, our faith compels us to act responsibly and wisely in our stewardship of the earth,” said Webb. “Houghton will be able to replace nearly 3 million kilowatt-hours of fossil fuel-generated electricity with clean, renewable energy straight from the sun. This translates into cleaner air and water, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and a healthier climate for future generations.”

Smart Energy Capital will fund all the development costs and sell to the college 100 percent of the electricity that the system generates at a fixed rate per kilowatt-hour for 25 years. In addition, all maintenance and upkeep throughout the 25-year contract will be handled by Smart Energy Capital. Houghton will be able to sell off excess power produced from the facility to the power company at market value.

The anticipated completion date for the project will be the end of 2013.