November 8, 2018 — Middlesex Community College (MxCC) unveiled a solar energy system during a ribbon-cutting event attended by Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State College and Universities system (CSCU), and representatives from the college, CSCU central office, Sunlight Solar Energy, Inc., and Middletown officials. The new energy system will reduce MxCC’s reliance on utility-generated power and is expected to offset about 8.5 percent of the annual electricity consumption on campus, saving an average of $11,000 per year over the next 20 years.
“This project is a great example of how a public and private partnership can work. Bigger and better things can happen when you work together for a common goal,” said President Ojakian. “And every dollar saved at a college can go to students in other areas, as students are my priority.”
Construction for the ground-mounted solar energy system began earlier this year and totals 355 solar panels which are located behind Founders Hall on the Middletown campus. Installed by Sunlight Solar Energy, Inc., of New Haven, the 120.4kW DC (100kW AC) power system was energized during the past week.
“The system’s total annual production is 164,100 kilowatt hours and is estimated to offset 42 tons of CO2 emissions—that’s the equivalent of driving over 100,000 fewer miles in your car, or carbon sequestered by 49.5 acres of US forests in one year,” explained Brendan Smith, design manager at Sunlight Solar Energy.
In 2015, former MxCC President Anna Wasescha spearheaded a sustainability effort with the college’s first climate action plan that was the inspiration for the statewide solar energy project. CSCU then entered into 12 Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) to purchase 100-percent green solar electricity at a fixed discounted rate at nine of the CSCU institutions. CSCU and MxCC also partnered with Connecticut Green Bank and Onyx Renewables for the project. MxCC paid $0 upfront for the system and purchases only the power generated. The cost of solar power is less than the cost of power from a utility company and is at a fixed rate for 20 years, ensuring an increase in savings as the cost of Connecticut grid power increases over time.
“This is a long time coming, and it’s amazing,” said Christine Witkowski, an environmental science professor at MxCC. “It is also a great opportunity for students to learn from the solar panels. We already had classes out here measuring and studying them.” Several students from her classes also attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, including Nicholas Nettis of Middletown. “We learn about everything in class from pollution in water to renewable energy, which I think is a good thing,” he said.
Since 1966, Middlesex Community College has provided high-quality, affordable, and accessible education to a diverse population, enhancing the strengths of individuals through degree, certificate, and lifelong learning programs that lead to university transfer, employment, and an enriched awareness of our shared responsibilities as global citizens. A part of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, MxCC offers more than 65 degree or certificate programs at the 35-acre campus in Middletown, MxCC@Platt in Meriden, and online. For more information about sustainability at MxCC, please visit mxcc.edu/sustainability.
Founded in 1988, Sunlight Solar Energy, Inc., is a certified solar electric installer committed to providing the highest quality installations for homes and businesses. With an office in New Haven, Sunlight Solar offers solar design and installation services to every town in Connecticut. For more information, please visit www.sunlightsolar.com.