Colleges and universities have always been focal points of change. The mixture of academic research, student activism, and institutional clout has allowed campus communities to promote widespread technical and social transformations. During the last few years, a few of these institutions have begun to lead in an entirely new area—renewable energy. Just last September, the University of California system announced an 80 megawatt (MW) procurement contract for off-site solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity, enough to power almost 13,000 homes.
While this is the largest PPA on record for a university, it was not the first. Back in 2008, the University of Oklahoma signed an agreement with Oklahoma Gas & Electric to purchase 100 percent renewable electricity, spurring the development of a 44-turbine wind farm. Then, in 2012, Ohio State signed a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for 50 MW of wind power. This year, George Washington University and American University teamed up, along with George Washington University Hospital, to secure 52 MW of solar PV from Duke Energy Renewables. Meanwhile, many campuses have installed significant on-site resources. Three universities in particular—Arizona State, Rutgers, and Mount Saint Mary’s—have installed over 57 MW of solar PV combined; enough to power over 9,000 U.S. homes.
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