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Carbon Footprint

South Mountain Community College Engages in an Effort to Reduce its Carbon Footprint

Look behind the athletic fields. South Mountain Community College has started construction on a 180,000 square-foot solar array that covers just over 4 acres.

These 2,812 ground-mounted PV modules are expected to produce approximately 1.9 million kilowatt hours of electricity in its first year of operation – enough to fulfill the electrical needs of 160* average sized homes per year – and nearly 35.5 million kilowatt hours over the next 20 years, which is an anticipated savings between $750,000 to $1.7 million** for the College.

Installing the 858-kilowatt array is one way to decrease our reliance on non-renewable forms of energy. The college, like the rest of the surrounding community, still relies on non-renewable sources of energy like coal, natural gas and oil for most of our electricity. This is why it is so important to reduce our energy use through efficiency upgrades and conservation practices by faculty, staff and students.

“The ongoing sustainability efforts of the College will provide value to the community for years to come,” said SMCC President Dr. Shari Olson. “The solar array is just one of several sustainability initiatives that SMCC has undertaken to not only off-set energy use and costs, but to help move forward the thinking and development of green technologies and jobs.”

The electricity produced by this array will ensure the College’s access to low cost energy over the next 20 to 30 years. The array will be owned, operated and maintained by SolarCity.

This installation will also enhance existing SMCC academic programs focused on green jobs, innovations and sustainability. Students in these programs will be able to track in real time the energy production of the array and the benefits of harnessing a renewable resource.

“Not only is the array a highly visible product that connects students who are interested in science, technology, engineering, math and land use, it is tangible evidence of our commitment to sustainability,” stated Dr. Olson. “We are looking forward to the Go Live date for the array and reducing our carbon footprint.”

The array is expected to go live in early 2016.


*Typical home with an average annual electric use of 12,000 kWh.
**Based on historical 30 year SRP escalation data (0.5%-4.0%).