Middlebury College closes in on renewable energy goal with solar installation

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Vermont’s Middlebury College has broken ground on a site which will soon be home to a new 5 MW solar project in the town of Middlebury that will provide the College with about 30% of its total electricity usage.

The project is being developed by Encore Renewable Energy, and construction is set to begin in 2022 on 30 acres of college-owned land roughly two miles off of campus. The project is expected to be comprised of roughly 29,000 modules mounted on single-axis trackers.

The installation, which will have 100% of its annual generation purchased by Middlebury, provides a massive step towards the school achieving its Energy2028 initiative, which calls for the College’s use of 100% renewable energy by 2028.

The College meets the other 70% of its electricity needs with electricity generated by its biomass plant, other local solar energy production sites, and power from Green Mountain Power’s grid, which is currently carbon-free, with 68% of generation coming from renewables, on the way to becoming 100 percent renewable by 2030.

Flocks of local sheep will provide vegetation management at the site from the beginning of its operation, while pollinator-friendly plants and shrubs are planned to be planted alongside, in order to provide habitat for and increase local populations of bees, butterflies, and other insects vital to crop production. To fulfill the state requirements regarding grassland birds, the College will dedicate up to 95 acres of its land to be managed as a habitat for bobolinks and other grassland birds.
The new solar installation will join eight other Middlebury College solar arrays, both on and off-campus, which currently comprise just over 1 MW.

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