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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Hobart and William Smith Colleges Go Solar

Solar Installations to Provide Significant Amount of Electricity for Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Investment Complements “Finger Lakes Forward” – The Region’s Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

Professor of Economics and Chair of Entrepreneurial Studies, Tom Drennen (right), at Hobart and William Smith Colleges talks to students during a site visit to the Colleges’ second solar farm. The installation features 7,800 panels on a 10-acre site in the Town of Seneca. Photo by Kevin Colton.

Professor of Economics and Chair of Entrepreneurial Studies, Tom Drennen (right), at Hobart and William Smith Colleges talks to students during a site visit to the Colleges’ second solar farm. The installation features 7,800 panels on a 10-acre site in the Town of Seneca. Photo by Kevin Colton.

By George Harvey

Hobart and William Smith Colleges are a singular institution in more than one respect. They are singular partly because they form together a single corporate entity, operating largely under a single administration. (This makes it hard, by the way, to tell whether singular or plural grammatical constructions are appropriate, so we beg pardon if things feel a bit strange in that respect.) Hobart is a men’s college, and William Smith is for women, but they have a single campus on the shore of Lake Seneca, in New York’s Finger Lakes, and they have a combined curriculum, with coeducational classes, since 1941. Men and women graduate together, but they get degrees from the two different colleges.

Hobart and William Smith Colleges are singular for another more recent reason. They now have one of the largest solar systems for any institution of higher education in the state of New York. Fittingly, perhaps, the five-megawatt system consists of two arrays of equal size. One array is in Geneva, New York, and the other is Seneca. Together, they will provide about 50% of the colleges’ electricity. The colleges were recently listed as one of the fifty “greenest” in the country by The Princeton Review.

The announcement that the arrays had been completed was made by the colleges and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which administers the project. Funding came under the state’s billion-dollar NY-Sun program, which leverages private investments. The systems were constructed during 2016 and 2017. Alicia Barton, NYSERDA President and CEO, made a statement on the new, combined system, explaining how it related to the other things New York had accomplished in the time from 2011 through 2017. She said, “This project continues New York State’s momentum in supporting solar, building on Governor Cuomo’s recent announcement that we have increased statewide solar power by more than 1,000 percent.”

Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer, Carolee White, provided some background for the colleges’ decision to build the solar system. “These solar projects are part of Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ work to reduce our carbon footprint and do what is right for the environment,” she said. “Along the way, we hope to realize some financial savings, but our driving force has been to uphold and advance our commitment to environmental sustainability.”

The two solar arrays were developed and installed by Dynamic Energy Solutions, LLC, of Wayne, Pennsylvania. Key Equipment Finance was a major funding provider.

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