FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Today Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) announced it received the green light to move forward with an extensive new solar installation that will produce more than a half a megawatt, or 540 kilowatts, of electricity annually – or enough energy to power almost 90 homes. The new solar array, to be installed by BAI Group, LLC, of State College, PA, will save CCAC about $750,000 in energy costs over the next 28 years. And thanks to a Power Purchase Agreement with BAI, the college does not anticipate having to spend any of its own money on the project.
“This project is a win for the college and for the environment,” said Vice President and Chief Facilities Officer J.B. Messer. “CCAC has no capital or operating expenses—BAI will build, operate and maintain the array, and CCAC will pay for the electricity at a contractually-defined, predictable rate. In addition, our students will be able to use the array to explore concepts in physics, electricity and business.”
“CCAC has been serving its community for generations through transformative academic programs. In our view, this solar project is another demonstration of CCAC’s commitment to its community, faculty, and students,” said Sel Edor, Market Director of Renewables for BAI. “We are honored to partner with the college to make this project a reality. More than a cost-saving measure, this 540kW solar project will serve as an educational tool that will help train the next generation of energy professionals. Pennsylvania has a long history of energy leadership. We believe the state can lead in the clean energy transition as well. This CCAC solar project is a step in that direction.”
The project was facilitated in part by the Pennsylvania Solar Center, which worked with CCAC for several months through its GET Solar (Galvanizing our Energy Transition) program. GET Solar provides technical assistance and financial guidance to entities interested in making the switch to solar power.
“CCAC is setting a new standard in the region for smart innovation and environmental stewardship,” said Leo Kowalski, GET Solar program manager for the PA Solar Center. “This will be CCAC’s third major solar installation, so they’ve been a long-time leader in Pittsburgh for harnessing the power of solar energy. And this time around, with the project being larger in scope and also being their first time executing a Power Purchase Agreement, we were fortunate to help guide them through the process.”
A Power Purchase Agreement is a tool often used by tax-exempt organizations to gain access to solar energy with little to no financing upfront. A third-party investor (in this case, BAI) owns and maintains the solar array and the host site (here, CCAC) pays for the energy generated by the solar system, typically at a significantly lower price than what the host was paying before. In CCAC’s case, it will save about $750,000 over the next three decades, or about $27,000 a year.
CCAC’s first two arrays of solar panels, installed in 2018, were 15 and 64 kilowatts, and are located at West Hills Center and the Allegheny Campus, respectively. The new solar installation will be about 540 kilowatts and will cover the entire roof of CCAC’s North Campus building. The administration also plans to incorporate the installation as a subject of study in CCAC science, technology, business, and accounting classes.
More and more Pennsylvania businesses and organizations are choosing to go solar, and not just for sustainability reasons. Investments in renewable energy sources like solar and wind are also extremely cost-effective, paying for themselves relatively quickly and then achieving impressive cost savings down the road. In fact, a study from Power Grid Engineering & Markets (PowerGEM) found that replacing 10 percent of the state’s electric generation with solar would result in more than $300 million in net savings annually. Investing in solar also diversifies the state’s electricity mix, reducing overreliance on sources like natural gas that are beginning to dominate the market and keeping costs down for those consumers, as well.
In addition, entities that go solar wisely recognize that an investment in renewable energy is also an investment in their local communities. Pennsylvania renewable energy projects have created almost 10,000 jobs spanning the entire supply chain, from technicians and engineers to salespeople, construction workers, and manufacturers. And according to the Finding Pennsylvania Solar Future Project, increasing the solar portion of the state’s electricity mix from 0.5 percent to 10 percent by 2030 would create upwards of 100,000 jobs and result in a net economic benefit of $1.6 billion annually.
Organizations interested in potentially switching to solar energy should be sure to check out PA Solar Center’s GET Solar program. Applications for the next round will be accepted in January 2021; those interested can also learn more by visiting www.pasolarcenter.org or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a rendering of CCAC’s new solar installation, a photo can be found here.
ABOUT THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY (CCAC)
Since its founding in 1966, CCAC has flourished, becoming the educational powerhouse it is today—a nationally renowned two-year college dedicated to serving all members of the community. From groundbreaking student success initiatives to top-ranked academic and career-based programs, CCAC continues to be the college of choice for nearly one out of every three adults in Allegheny County.
Each year, more than 25,000 students enroll at CCAC, taking advantage of nearly 160 degree, certificate, diploma and transfer programs while thousands more access noncredit and workforce development courses. Comprising four campuses and four neighborhood centers as well as other off-site locations, CCAC is honored to have one of the largest veteran student populations in the state and takes pride in ranking among the nation’s top community colleges for the number of individuals graduating in nursing and the health-related professions.
CCAC graduates have transferred to the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities, have obtained the most academically challenging and competitive degrees, and can be found at leading companies, organizations and institutions throughout the country. CCAC alumni are actively engaged in every sector of society, providing leadership to scores of economic, scientific, civic and philanthropic entities both in the Pittsburgh region and around the world. Visit ccac.edu to learn more.
Founded in State College, Pennsylvania in 1986 and having since expanded to several locations, BAI is a multi-disciplinary company that has been a player in the renewable energy production and energy transmission sectors for the past two decades. Originally these services started within the waste management sector where BAI participated in various capacities for numerous landfill gas to energy projects. Over time our experience quickly expanded to other parts of the energy sector including wind farms and solar. BAI assists clients with the development of commercial and industrial (a.k.a. C&I), merchant grade, and other types of large solar installations including storage.
BAI maintains staff with significant experience in the design and construction of solar arrays and as a result, has made the decision, in addition to providing traditional design and permitting services for the projects, to develop these projects as well. Towards this end, BAI is currently in various stages of development of over 300 megawatts (MWs) of projects – both Merchant and C&I.
With respect to project financing, BAI has developed an internal capacity to finance PPAs for qualifying C&I projects. Leveraging the financial prowess of our parent company, Prima Terra Holdings, LLC, BAI provides complete funding solutions as a PPA counterparty and project developer. Integrating the financing of projects allows us to arrange highly competitive PPAs for our clients. BAI’s unique approach to project development and financing gives us a leg up on our competition.
About the PA Solar Center
The Pennsylvania Solar Center is a project of its fiscal sponsor, The New Sun Rising, a 501c3 organization. The Center offers technical assistance to non-profit organizations and businesses to help them go solar, as well as online resources for all solar stakeholders and education to decision makers and advocates about the benefits of robust solar policy. The PA Solar Center also provides an online directory of qualified solar developers, a map of notable solar installations, and listing of solar events happening across the state.
Learn more at www.pasolarcenter.org.