Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Greenskies to Build Solar Installation on Wesleyan Campus

A Greenskies press release. Robert Landino, owner of Centerplan Construction, is chairman of the Greenskies board.
The ground-mounted solar array will be built at the corner of Long Lane and Wadsworth Road on the Wesleyan campus, where it will produce 1.2 million kilowatt hours of clean renewable electricity per year.

"We are proud to be partnering with Wesleyan on this initiative," said James Desantos, Greenskies' vice president of business development. "As a leader in sustainability since the 1980s, Wesleyan's vision and efforts to create a sustainable campus are unparalleled and we are excited to be a partner in this endeavor."

Greenskies was awarded the project based on the results of a competitive bidding process. The new solar PV array will work in collaboration with two existing natural gas co-generation facilities on the Wesleyan campus and will supply power directly to the university's existing micro-grid. The plan also calls for several campus buildings that are not currently part of the micro-grid system to be tied into the network.

"We are excited to partner with Greenskies on this project, which will take us closer toward our goal of a carbon neutral campus," said John Meerts, Wesleyan's vice president for Finance and Administration. "The new solar array will help us reduce costs while increasing our energy self-reliance, together with our two natural gas co-generation facilities."

Wesleyan and Greenskies will enter into a power-purchase agreement, where Greenskies will design, develop, finance, own, and maintain the solar installation for the next 20 years at no cost to the university while Wesleyan agrees to purchase 100 percent of the electricity produced at the site at a significantly discounted rate.

Greenskies will start construction in the spring of 2016 and is anticipating that the project will be completed by Sept. 1, 2016.

Greenskies is a 7-year-old company that designs, builds and maintains solar photovoltaic systems for corporate clients, municipalities and government agencies, educational institutions and utilities throughout the United States. Solar installations designed and built by Greenskies have now produced about 40 million kilowatt hours of clean electric power.


Catherine Johnson said...

Too bad these panels can't go on top of buildings, where they would be out of view, instead of where there is now a field that could grow food or where animals could graze. This field is at the edge of Wesleyan's world, a far corner where few from campus will see it, so it's no big deal what it looks like. But for the rest of us, it's the beginning of nature- our greenbelt: the Long Lane Arboretum, Snow School, Long Hill, Laurel Grove Road, Wadsworth Mansion and the state park- it's where we get to reconnect and recuperate. Too many corners have been chipped away already from that beautiful (former) state parcel. Despite the good it may accomplish, no one needs to have a field of black panels as their view.

I wish Wesleyan took a broader view of energy conservation. Finding ways to generate energy without fossil fuels is a noble endeavor, but that small gain will pale in comparison to, for example, the energy faculty and staff in getting to and from work everyday. The majority of employees live out of town and travel to work in a private automobile. Driving a Prius or electric car still requires the infrastructure and fossil fuel to run as a conventional car. I know a handful of faculty who have chosen to live in town, close enough to walk or bike to work, but what about the other 990 staff members? Isn't Wesleyan supposed to be a school at the forefront of progressive ideas?

Instead of miniscule feel-good efforts like a sticking up a few solar panels, how about starting to make actual gains in energy conservation? How about trying to connect better with the place you live and work, Wesleyan and Greenskies? How about buying a house in a 1-2 mile radius of campus, taking the city or regional bus, or sharing rides? That's how you can actually reduce fossil fuel consumption.

I think those panels should not be installed in a field, and that a better arrangement needs to be made. Wesleyan has taken enough. I have yet to hear someone speak positively of what they see has been done at Long Lane. Too many decisions are made in isolation, without input from a single Middletown resident. In my opinion, Wesleyan has erased some of the best things that the campus gave the town and its students, and has changed the experience and neighborhood not for the better. It will take a generation to reverse the damage, if it can be reversed at all. If you want to do good, do it quietly, and put those panels where no one will see them. Then spend some energy repairing some of the damage from the past 2 decades of poor decision-making.

Anonymous said...

There are so many buildings at Wesleyan, why not put panels on the roofs? The parking lot next to the athletic field was a good start, continue in that vein instead of using a lovely green space.

Wesleyan was once a beautiful campus, but things have been going downhill --- more and bigger buildings, fewer trees and plantings, a campus that is getting too large for its own good, wide swaths of black asphalt for walkways, buildings falling further and further into disrepair, the list could go on and on. It just isn't kept as nicely as it has been in the past and this was more apparent to me after visiting other small liberal arts colleges recently.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the city need space for more natural turf sports fields?