HWS Explores Solar Energy – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

HWS Explores Solar Energy

HWS was recently awarded a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for a proposed solar array project. As designed, the proposed project would be one of the largest single solar projects in New York State, comprising 8,000 panels on approximately 10 acres of land at the recently acquired Fribolin farm property on White Springs Lane. An open forum to discuss the proposed HWS solar system will take place on Thursday, Nov. 20, at 7 p.m. in the Sanford Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library. All campus members are welcome and encouraged to attend.

“This is an amazing opportunity for the Colleges to use a newly-acquired piece of property to offset emissions due to our electricity use, provide revenue for the institution, and provide curricular opportunities for HWS students and faculty,” says Adam Maurer, sustainability manager. “We’re fortunate to have the necessary ingredients to make this project a reality here in Geneva.”

Professor of Economics and Chair of the Environmental Studies Program Thomas Drennen (pictured above) says he was excited by the award, which he believes would not have been possible were it not for the input and hard work of numerous students who worked on solar and other renewable proposals for HWS over the years.

“When we designed the Finger Lakes Institute, students dreamed of making that a solar-powered facility. At the time, the best we could do was put in a small system that generates less than five percent of the building’s needs,” says Drennen.”This project will generate almost one-third of the power consumed by the whole campus! Future generations of students will be able to see for themselves how solar works and will be inspired to take the next step, whatever that may be, toward achieving the ambitious but important goal of climate neutral by 2025.”

The Colleges have committed to achieving climate neutrality (net zero emissions) by 2025 as part of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. As Drennen notes, the proposed system is a significant step toward that end. The 2.5 megawatt system is expected to generate 3,351,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year and offset about 30 percent of the Colleges’ electricity. Additionally, Hobart and William Smith are expected to see approximately $75,000 in annual energy electric savings, and roughly $1.5 million over the 20-year-term of the project.

During the forum, Drennen will provide a brief introduction, including a history of the President’s Climate Commitment, renewable energy at HWS, and other unique sustainability initiatives at the Colleges. A representative of the solar firm, Dynamic Energy, will provide an overview of the HWS solar project, followed by an open question and answer and discussion period.

The HWS solar project is one of 142 solar projects across New York State made possible by a NY-Sun Incentive Program 2014 award. NY-Sun deploys public funds to drive industry to scale and reduce burdens on ratepayers. More solar photovoltaic has been installed or contracted since the program’s inception than in the entire prior decade.

The proposed project also will be used to support the curriculum, such as through educational kiosks at the site and integration in HWS courses.

If you are unable to attend, but have specific interest in the project, please email Adam Maurer, sustainability manager, at sustainability@hws.edu