As part of its ongoing commitment to sustainability, Bucknell University has partnered with Encore Renewable Energy of Burlington, Vt., to install a 1.6 peak megawatt solar array on approximately seven acres of University-owned land beyond Bucknell's West Athletic Field and Art Barn, near the 12th fairway of Bucknell Golf Club. Encore will provide comprehensive project development and financing to advance the project.
The plan received approval from the East Buffalo Township Board of Supervisors on Monday, April 12.
The benefits of the solar project include advancing Bucknell's strategic commitment to sustainability and enhancing opportunities for renewable-energy focused teaching and research across multiple disciplines. In addition, the project will generate property tax revenues to East Buffalo Township, provide Bucknell with price certainty on energy rates for the next several decades, and strengthen the region's commitment to the production and use of renewable energy.
Creating a sustainable future through the responsible stewardship of the University's financial, natural, human and other resources is one of four strategic commitments of Bucknell's Strategic Plan.
"Bucknell has been actively seeking opportunities to increase its use of renewable energy and reduce its dependency on carbon-producing sources," says Victor Udo, director of campus sustainability. "For more than two years now, the University has explored the installation of a solar array as a source of sustainable energy that can benefit both the University and the community. It will also provide an opportunity for student education and research in this rapidly expanding field."
The proposed site will provide prime sun exposure and is not in close proximity to residential properties. The project will consist of south-facing panels tilted at 25 to 30 degrees, with a maximum height of nine feet. The seven-acre array of panels will be surrounded with an agricultural fence to ensure safety. The site will also be replanted with pollinator friendly vegetation between the panels to attract bees, butterflies and other species critical to our future food security.
"The energy transition is upon us and we applaud Bucknell University for demonstrating leadership regarding the financial, environmental and social benefits of securing electrical generation resources for its facilities from new sources of renewable energy," says Chad Farrell '92, founder and CEO of Encore Renewable Energy. "This project will provide the University with cost savings while offering a hands-on educational opportunity for students interested in learning more about the fast-growing professional field of renewable energy. As an alumnus, I am personally thrilled to see my alma mater advancing this important project."
"This project is a win-win for the University and the region," Udo says. "The biggest winner will ultimately be our environment from the amount of clean, renewable energy this solar array will generate, reducing reliance on fossil fuels."