A 25-acre solar farm built for the Fayetteville campus will save money, reduce emissions and protect against rising utility rates.

The University of Arkansas recently signed a 25-year solar service agreement that is expected to save millions of dollars in energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8.8%.

The 25-acre solar facility will be built adjacent to the university’s campus, helping to save more than $200,000 in the first year, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of taking more than 1,000 gasoline-powered passenger cars off the road for one year.

“This is part of an ongoing campus strategy to be fiscally and environmentally conscious in all of our projects, including our heat and power plant, energy performance contracts and US Green Building Council certified facilities,” said Scott Turley, associate provost for objects.

The university selected Integrity Energy Partners of Little Rock to assist with the project. Entegrity will assume all capital costs, design, permitting, installation, utility connection, operation and maintenance of the solar array and provide energy as a service to the University of Arkansas campus. Under the 25-year agreement, the university will buy at a set rate all the energy generated by the array, which has a minimum guaranteed production of 8.6 GWh in the first year, or about 6.3% of the campus’s electrical energy needs.

“Estimates show that once implemented, this will save $3.1 million,” said Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Becky W. Keough. “The Arkansas Energy Administration, a division of the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment, indicates that this solar project is one of the most cost-effective activities that can be evaluated without requiring upfront capital.”

In 2007, the University of Arkansas became one of the first institutions to sign the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment Charter and set a goal of net carbon neutrality by 2040.

The university works to reduce carbon emissions through a combination of sustainable building practices, improved energy efficiency and sustainable commuter transportation options. The University is seeking additional renewable energy development opportunities as part of its ongoing efforts to reduce financial risk while being an environmentally responsible campus.

“The U of A is leading by example,” said Eric Bowles, director of the Office of Sustainability. “Simply put, this project saves money, reduces risk and minimizes environmental impact. We are excited to tell this story and inspire others to look beyond the ordinary.”

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