Five New England Colleges Open Solar Plant to Offset Energy Use

May 7, 2018

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Five ACE member institutions in New England are teaming up to build a solar power facility to help offset their use of electricity. Amherst College, Hampshire College, Smith College, and Williams College in Massachusetts and Bowdoin College in Maine partnered with NextEra Energy Resources to build the plant and will purchase zero-carbon electricity from it when it is completed.

The solar facility is intended to offset 46,000 megawatt-hours per year of the colleges’ collective electrical needs. It will be built in Farmington, Maine, and is scheduled to open in 2019.

All five institutions have a strong commitment to sustainability and have experience with other projects focused on that goal. For example, Hampshire is already solar powered, Smith produces much of its electricity on site, including some produced through solar panels, and Bowdoin has achieved carbon neutrality.

Smith College Campus Center solar panels
Artist’s rendering of the solar panels covering the roof of Smith College’s campus center. Used with permission.

Nevertheless, it was important for the colleges to come together to demonstrate how collaboration “can make a substantive, positive impact on our environment—at the institutional level, the regional level and beyond,” according to Smith College President Kathleen McCartney.

—Carly O’Connell

At a Glance

ACE Member Insitutions:

Initiative: Collaboration to build a solar power facility in New England to provide a renewable electricity source for nearby universities and other communities.

Goal: Reduce carbon emissions, support sustainable energy, and lead their campus and regional communities in the movement towards sustainability.

Become a member: As a member of ACE, you join nearly 1,800 organizations that collectively promote, protect and advocate for students, faculty and administrators in higher education. ACE is the most visible and influential higher education association in the nation, and we are at the center of federal policy debates concerning legislation that affects campuses across the country. See more on the ACE website.

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