The Washington and Lee University (W&L) has installed the largest solar-energy system in Virginia. The installation consists of solar PV panels having a total capacity of 444 kW in two locations comprising 1,016 PV panels on the roof-top of Lewis Hall, and 540 PV panels over the University’s parking deck.
The solar-energy system has been functioning from late December. It is expected to lower W&Lâ€™s electricity consumption by 3%, annually. The solar PV arrays are part of the Universityâ€™s endeavor to reduce its generation of greenhouse-gases by 20% over a period of 5 years.
Secure Futures LLC, owns the solar-energy system. It is operating the panels through Lexington Solar, its subsidiary. The North Carolina-based Southern Energy Management has performed the installation and is maintaining the 325 kW Lewis Hall PV system, which is made up of 1,016 SunPower solar PV panels. The parking deck installation has been executed by Standard Solar, which will also take care of its maintenance. The parking deck features 540 Sanyo solar PV panels, which are installed on a steel canopy over the parking deck.
Real time data from the solar-energy system is available on the W&L University’s web-based dashboard. The dashboard provides data about benefits to the environment and has a graphic display of the solar-energy generation from both the arrays.
Lexington Solar and the W&L University have entered into a lease agreement for the solar-energy system for a period of 20 years. The long period of lease has helped reduce the initial upfront cost and has also spread the project cost. Secure Futures helped the University in obtaining state and federal incentives, which have made solar-energy project economically viable.
The city of Lexington has granted a tax exemption for 20 years for the equipment. Using funds from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the project has been awarded an incentive grant by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.