University of Richmond President Ronald A. Crutcher and Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe cut the ribbon on the first solar array project to be installed in the Commonwealth under a new PPA pilot program.

The system was installed at the university through a solar power purchase agreement (PPA) with Secure Futures, a Staunton, Va.,-based solar developer. In 2013 the Virginia General Assembly enacted legislation creating a PPA pilot program in Dominion Virginia Power service territory.  

The 205-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array was installed on the roof of the LEED-Gold certified Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness. The 749 panels cover about 22,000 square feet of the rooftop. Seventy-six percent of the panels are bifacial, allowing them to collect direct solar energy from the front and ambient energy from the back.

“This project represents another example of the University of Richmond’s firm commitment to environmentally responsible practices and sustainability,” said University of Richmond President Ronald A. Crutcher. “This is the first commercial solar installation in Virginia under the PPA pilot program. The modules will generate enough electricity to power a residence hall and offset more than 300,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. The project also supports our academic enterprise as our students and faculty intend to study and analyze energy-performance data from these panels.”

According to Secure Futures and project co-owner SolarWorld, this is the first commercial application of SolarWorld’s Bisun panels in the Americas. These bifacial modules are capable of increasing energy yield by as much as 25 percent.

A PPA is a critical financial instrument for solar energy development. UR is the first university to partner with developer Secure Futures under the 2013 legislation that paved the way for this PPA in Dominion Virginia territory. Secure Futures also will sell the electricity generated by the array to the university at a set rate over a 20-year period.

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