Solar news: February 19th, 2021

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In this week’s news roundup, we discuss two exciting solar updates: a soon-to-be solar-powered college campus in Wisconsin, and a new community solar legislation in New Mexico.

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UW-Platteville to install Wisconsin’s largest solar array on campus

The University of Wisconsin Platteville has recently received permission to install a 2.4 megawatt solar array on a five-acre park on its campus. This project is projected to cover 25 percent of the university’s electricity needs, and will help them save more than $200,000 per year in electricity costs. Once completed, this solar array will be the largest state-owned solar array in Wisconsin, and will make UW-Platteville the sixth largest producer of renewable energy among higher education institutions in the United States. 

Renewable energy projects–and specifically, solar–are becoming increasingly popular among education institutions across the country; big-name universities like Yale, Princeton, Northwestern, University of San Diego and University of Arizona have installed solar panel systems to help lower energy costs and reduce carbon footprints. According to a recent report from Generation180, more than 5 million students now attend schools with solar, and solar schools are currently generating enough solar electricity to power roughly 254,000 U.S. homes.  

New bill could kick-start community solar for New Mexico

A new senate bill in NM, Senate Bill 84, would allow New Mexicans in state jurisdiction to have access to community solar arrays for the first time. Currently, the only community solar project in New Mexico exists at Picuris Pueblo on sovereign Pueblo nation territory. This array, brought online in 2018 by the Albuquerque-based installer OE Solar, serves electricity to roughly 600 homes in the Pensaco Valley.  According to a recent study from University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, further community solar development in New Mexico could help spur up to 4,000 new jobs and generate more than $2.9 million per year in annual tax revenue for the state.

If passed, the bill will have a far-reaching impact on New Mexican’s access to solar energy. OE solar CEO Adam Harper stated, “There’s significant pent-up demand here for community solar, and we’re passionate about seeing new legislation passed to open the local market for it,” “… All these people who live Downtown or in apartment complexes and lower income housing around Albuquerque don’t have direct access now to the benefits of solar. But I believe we’d see substantial growth in demand in these communities if the Community Solar Act is approved.”

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About Bobby Mackenzie

Bobby is a Consumer Support Specialist at EnergySage, where he focuses on helping homeowners make informed solar decisions. He graduated from St. Lawrence University with a double major in government and history. Bobby brings an analytical, fact-based perspective to help solar shoppers make optimal decisions for themselves and for our planet. When he's not working, Bobby enjoys fishing and hiking throughout New England.

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