UMass Amherst Plans Large-Scale Solar Power Project

The campus-wide solar installations are expected to generate $6.2 million in cost savings for the university over the next 20 years.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst will save $6.2 million in electric costs over the next 20 years, thanks to a new campus-wide solar power initiative.

UMass Amherst
(Image: UMass Amherst)

Valhalla, NY-based ConEdison Solutions will own, operate and maintain 15,576 photovoltaic panels at eight sites across the UMass campus. The photovoltaic (PV) systems will collectively generate annual electricity equivalent to that used by 900 typical Massachusetts homes.

“UMass Amherst prides itself on being a sustainability leader, serving as a model for campuses and communities across the country,” said Shane Conklin, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities and Campus Services. “We are very excited to be moving forward with what we view as an economic, environmental, and educational win for our entire community.”

Installation is scheduled for completion by the end of this year. The PV systems will provide 5.3 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable power, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equal to 31,000 non-metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.

The project will require no up-front costs to the university. ConEdison Solutions sells the electricity to the university at a rate that is below the current market price. The solar arrays will save the university $89,000 on electricity in the first year. UMass Amherst projects that savings will grow to an average $310,000 per year.

The eight installations – six on rooftops and two above existing asphalt parking lots – will be engineered and constructed by Brightergy, a national solar company. Brightergy worked with Sol Systems to arrange for project finance, ownership and ongoing operations and maintenance of the solar systems by ConEdison Solutions for up to 20 years. The university will buy all of the electricity from the $16 million project for direct use on campus through a power purchase agreement with ConEdison Solutions.

“America’s college campuses often help point the way to the future when it comes to sustainability and renewable energy,” said Mark Noyes, President and CEO of ConEdison Solutions. “As an energy supplier to UMass over the years, we are proud to now be helping the University of Massachusetts Amherst reinforce its commitment to clean energy and a greener tomorrow.”