Renewable energy coming to U of A campus

A 25-acre solar farm developed for the Fayetteville campus will save money, reduce air emissions, and hedge against rising utility rates.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Over the next 25 years, the University of Arkansas is expected to save millions of dollars in electricity costs and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 8.8% due to a new solar services agreement that was signed by UA System President Donald Bobbit on July 18th, 2022. 

The agreement, which is expected to save more than $200,000 in its first year, will create sustainable energy from multiple solar panels at a new 25-acre facility located off campus. The decrease in greenhouse gas emissions that the effort will support is the equivalent to taking more than 1,000 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles off the road for one year.

“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.

After a competitive selection process, the university selected Entegrity Energy Partners of Little Rock to facilitate the project. Entegrity will provide all capital costs, design, permitting, installation, utility interconnection, operations and maintenance of the solar array and provide energy as a service to the U of A campus.  

The solar array will be developed offsite on approximately 25 acres within the U of A’s electrical grid.  The campus will purchase the entire energy output of the array at a specified rate over the 25-year contract term. The facility has a minimum guaranteed production of 8,688,880 kWh in the first year which is approximately 6.3% of the campus electrical energy requirement.

Arkansas Department of Energy & Environment Cabinet Secretary Becky W. Keogh commends the University of Arkansas on this exceptional solar project. “Estimates demonstrate, upon execution, it will generate savings of $3.1 million,” said Cabinet Secretary Keogh. “The Arkansas Energy Office, an entity of the Arkansas Department of Energy & Environment, indicates that this solar project is one of the most cost-effective endeavors to be evaluated while requiring no upfront capital.”

In 2007, the U of A became one of the first institutions to become a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and establish the goal of net carbon neutrality by 2040. 

The U of A has reinforced this position by encouraging more aggressive federal carbon reduction goals. The university is working to reduce its carbon footprint with a combination of sustainable building practices, energy efficiency upgrades, and sustainable commuter transportation options. 

“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.”

The University of Arkansas is actively pursuing additional renewable energy development opportunities as part of the ongoing effort to reduce financial risk while being an environmentally responsible campus.

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