University of Richmond, Secure Futures announce solar power installation; first in Virginia under pilot program

January 15, 2015

University of Richmond and Secure Futures, a solar energy developer based in Staunton, Va., have reached an agreement to install solar panels on the roof of UR’s Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness.

Once complete, the 204-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array will allow the university to have the capacity to generate more than 226,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, potentially offsetting the emission of more than 344,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. That is equivalent to the average annual electricity use of 21.5 American homes, or the annual electricity needs for one campus residence hall.

 Installation is expected to begin in July 2015, and the panels will begin generating electricity for the university before students arrive back to campus for the 2015 school year.

“This project is a win for everyone involved,” said David Hale, vice president for business and finance at the University of Richmond. “In addition to helping the university address its significant commitment to environmental sustainability, our agreement with Secure Futures will allow us to reduce our utility expenses and may pave the way for other similar projects under Virginia’s PPA pilot program.”

A PPA, or Power Purchase Agreement, is a critical financial instrument for solar energy development. Under the arrangement, Secure Futures will install, maintain and own the solar array – and its associated tax benefits – and will sell the electricity generated by the array to the University of Richmond at a set rate over a 20-year period.

In 2013, the Virginia General Assembly enacted legislation creating a PPA pilot program in Dominion Virginia Power service territory. The University of Richmond project is the first in the state to be built under this new program.

“Virginia’s environment and economy both benefit these kinds of investments, and I was pleased to introduce legislation that made the University of Richmond project possible. I hope there are many of these announcements to follow,” said Virginia State Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke), sponsor of the bill in 2013 creating the state’s PPA pilot program.

“Virginia lags behind neighboring states in the region when it comes to renewable energy development. We’re pleased that the University of Richmond project will demonstrate how leading state institutions can apply the PPA Pilot Program to close that gap, while creating green jobs in Virginia,” said Tony Smith, president and CEO of Secure Futures. “We look forward to more progress in the coming year.”

The University is striving to achieve a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, and complete carbon neutrality by 2050. Once installed on the roof of the LEED Gold-certified Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness, the new solar panel array will be another highly visible step towards the University’s goals.

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About Secure Futures: Founded in 2004, Secure Futures has emerged as the market and policy leader in Virginia’s solar energy industry. The company received a Solar Innovation of the Year award from the Maryland-D.C.-Virginia Solar Energy Industry Association in November 2014. Secure Futures now owns and manages about 636 kilowatts of solar capacity across the state and expects rapid growth in 2015.