Construction is nearly complete at OSU’s first two large-scale ground-mounted solar electric systems. The larger site, located near the Trysting Tree Golf Course on the east side of the Willamette River, is a little over two acres and around 450 kilowatts. A second site near 53rd St. and Campus Way is just under two acres and around 300 kilowatts. Under a power purchase agreement between the Oregon University System (OUS) and SolarCity, construction began in November and will be complete by the end of December. Systems will be tested and activated in early January.
The power produced by the panels will be sold to OSU at rates lower than from the local utility grid. This project, along with others around the state, is part of the process to power OUS with renewable sources, called Solar By Degrees. The arrangement allows OSU to pay no upfront cost and realize utility cost savings over the entire life of the project. SolarCity installs, owns, maintains and operates solar equipment tied to the electric grid “downstream” from OSU electric meters. OSU purchases renewable electricity generated by the solar equipment at a rate lower than from the local utility but still relies on the utility to provide whatever power is needed beyond what the solar system can produce.
SolarWorld, the largest United States solar manufacturer, supplied more than 3,000 high-performance solar panels for the installations. SolarWorld manufactures solar technology, from raw material silicon to finished solar panels, in Hillsboro, Ore., at its 97-acre U.S. manufacturing headquarters.
A third site planned for development next year and is likely to be around six acres in size. The space was made available thanks to support from OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences, and the land will likely continue to be used for sheep grazing. See the full press release and Sustainable Business Oregon article.