University of Arkansas president Donald Bobbit recently signed an agreement with Entegrity Energy Partners of Little Rock to build a new 25-acre, off-campus solar panel facility, projected to cut the University’s greenhouse gas emissions by 8.8% and save millions of dollars in electricity costs.
“This is part of an ongoing campus strategy to be both fiscally and environmentally conscious with all of our projects including our combined heat and power plant, Energy Savings Performance Contracts and U.S. Green Building Council certified facilities,” said Scott Turley, associate vice chancellor of facilities.
The new facility is expected to save the University more than $200,000 in its first year alone, fulfilling a guaranteed minimum of 6.3% of the campus’s electrical requirement, resulting in reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking over 1,000 gasoline powered passenger vehicles off the road for a year.
Entegrity Energy Partners of Little Rock was selected to facilitate the project, and as part of the agreement, will provide all capital costs, design, permitting, installation, utility interconnection and operations and maintenance of the solar arrays over the course of the 25-year contract. The U of A, for its part, has agreed to buy all energy produced at a fixed rate. Because there will be no upfront cost to the University, it is expected to save approximately $3.1 million.
This project is one step in what has already been a 15-year endeavor. The U of A was a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which set the goal of net carbon neutrality by 2040. Since then, it has sought to embrace sustainable building practices, energy efficiency upgrades, sustainable commuter transportation options and emerging renewable energy opportunities.
“The U of A is leading by example,” said Eric Boles, director of the Office for Sustainability. “Simply put, this project saves money, reduces risk, and minimizes environmental impact. We are excited to tell this story and inspire others to look beyond business as usual.”