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SUNY Fredonia Begins Construction on Solar plus Storage Project

SUNY Fredonia Begins Construction on Solar plus Storage Project
(Image: A rendering of the SUNY Fredonia solar plus storage system. Credit: Solar Liberty)

Construction just began on the State University of New York at Fredonia (SUNY Fredonia)’s first solar plus storage project to power its campus in Western New York.

Once complete, the system will include a 1.4-megawatt solar array and 500-kilowatt battery. SUNY Fredonia expects the project to provide about 1.7 gigawatt hours of energy, offset 432,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year on average, and deliver cost savings.

The project is located on the north edge of campus, between the New York State Thruway and the Blue Devil softball field, according to the university and its partners. The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is overseeing the solar plus storage system as the campus’ energy advisor. Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems venture Oriden and solar provider Solar Liberty are the state’s strategic partners.

SUNY Fredonia signed a power purchase agreement for the energy that the system produces. Speaking to Observer Today last year about the project, Michael Metzger, the university’s vice president for finance and administration, said that it wouldn’t cost the school anything besides the land where the solar panels will go.

“We will not only be generating power,” he told the paper, “we’ll be storing it so that it can be used for emergency power systems.”

Under the agreement, Oriden and Solar Liberty are providing a customized 1.4-MW ground-mounted photovoltaic array integrated with a 500-KW energy storage system designed to make sure that the university has energy during an emergency — and peak electric demand.

The partners point out that the project supports a plan introduced last year called the SUNY Energy Roadmap, which outlines progress to reach Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s goal of procuring 70% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and transitioning to a carbon-free grid by 2040.

Last year the governor offered $280 million for energy storage projects, part of a larger investment to help New York get to 3 gigawatts of energy storage by 2030. Energy storage adoption grew faster this year than many had anticipated.

SUNY Fredonia officials say they hope to lead by example. “The solar array will provide significant long-term financial savings, while also supporting the institutional goal of environmental sustainability as outlined in Fredonia’s strategic plan,” said interim president Dennis Hefner.

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