Oregon State University installs two solar arrays

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SolarCity owns and operates the solar arrays on Oregon State University's campus.
Courtesy Oregon State University

SolarCity owns and operates the solar arrays on Oregon State University's campus. 

Oregon State University jumped ahead in the university system's statewide solar program, installing two ground-mounted solar arrays covering four acres.

The arrays will fire up in January generating a total of about 750 kilowatts of power that will be generated at a rate cheaper than what the university is currently paying.

SolarWorld of Hillsboro supplied the more than 3,000 solar panels for the project. U.S. Bank helped finance the arrays.

The installations are part of the Oregon University System's "Solar by Degrees" program, which was launched last year with the start of a project at Oregon Institute of Technology.

Alice Wiewel, director of capital planning and construction for OUS, said the program has helped moved the university system "further down the path of climate neutrality than most other university systems in the country."

OSU's arrays, one next to the Trysting Tree golf course on the east side of the Willamette River and the second just east of the Benton County Fairgrounds, are owned and operated by SolarCity, a California company poised for an initial public offering of stock. OSU is leasing the land to SolarCity will buy back the power through a power purchase agreement.

There were no upfront capital costs required from OSU, which hopes to add more solar panels at other sites for total of 10 acres of ground-mounted solar arrays.

"It was a challenge to meet the major logistical requirements of a project like this, which include setting aside available land, proximity to an electrical load and ability to connect to the electric utility," said Brandon Trelstad, OSU’s sustainability coordinator in a press release. "Luckily, we have great support from the College of Agricultural Sciences and are working out ways in which the land around the solar arrays can continue to be productive.”

As part of the Solar By Degrees program, SolarCity will provide student internships and work with university faculty and staff to find research opportunities connected with the solar project.

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