Summary of Article – authored by Secure Futures President & CEO, Anthony Smith – published in May/June 2015 issue of SolarToday: Leading the Renewable Energy Revolution
In the midst of net-metering disputes across the country, and debates on solar energy’s impact on non-solar participants, research concludes the first commercial scale system in Virginia is benefiting the surrounding community, and not just the private university in which the system is located. In a study completed by Secure Futures and the Harrisonburg Electric Commission (HEC), it was determined that the benefits of the 104 kW net-metered system on Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) outweigh the costs to HEC.
In November 2010, Eastern Mennonite University installed a 104 kW solar array with Staunton based solar company, Secure Futures LLC. At the time, it was both the largest commercial scale solar project in the Commonwealth and the first power purchase agreement in Virginia. This installation has saved EMU about $11,400/year in reduced electricity costs.
The system is also providing value to HEC, through avoided energy and demand charges. As a municipal, non-generating, utility company, HEC purchases wholesale energy from Dominion Virginia Power, selling that energy at retail to its Harrisonburg customers. In partnership with HEC senior management the study concludes that the average net benefit to HEC per kilowatt of installed solar capacity is $22.78/kW. The respective costs to HEC being their lost revenue from EMU’s solar generation. The methodology (Attached Here) uses three years of empirical data from the EMU solar system – at 5-minute intervals.
In the article, published in the May/June 2015 issue of Solar Today, Dr. Anthony Smith reflects on the study, stating, “Using a net benefit model developed in consultation with HEC management, we find that in the case of the EMU solar installation, the benefits to HEC outweigh the costs.”
The 104 kW solar system follows on the heels of EMU’s commitment to Creation Care, in protecting its natural resources and in benefitting its surrounding community. This over 40-year dedication to Creation Care is touted by EMU President Loren Swartzendruber, “Our Commitment to sustainability and environmental protections at EMU is rooted in our identity as a Christian University. It’s a commitment that rests on the foundation of a Mennonite value to be good stewards of the gift of creation.”