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University at Buffalo one of three winners in Cuomo's Energy to Lead competition

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Mon, May 16th 2016 09:10 pm

UB will receive $1 million for project to create 100 megawatts of new, locally produced solar energy

By the University at Buffalo

A University at Buffalo-backed plan to create 100 megawatts of new, locally produced solar energy within the next four years is among the winners of a clean energy competition for New York colleges and universities.

Winners of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's $3 million Energy to Lead competition were announced today in an event at Bard College in Dutchess County.

The Energy to Lead program is part of the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) Campus Challenge, an initiative sponsored by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

As an Energy to Lead recipient, the UB proposal will receive $1 million to help implement its plan. The two other winners are Bard College and SUNY Broome Community College in Binghamton.

Cuomo announced the Energy to Lead competition in October to challenge colleges and universities to develop innovative plans for clean energy projects.

NYSERDA administered the competition, which was open to private and public universities and colleges and student-led coalitions from two- or four-year institutions.

"The Energy to Lead Competition is challenging New York's emerging energy leaders to turn innovative ideas into cutting-edge solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower energy bills and improve resiliency in communities across the state," Cuomo said. "I congratulate our winning students and faculty, and commend them for their commitment to helping to build a cleaner, greener New York."

"The University at Buffalo is honored to be selected by Gov. Cuomo's Energy to Lead competition and the innovative Reforming the Energy Vision initiative," UB President Satish K. Tripathi said.

"Our university has a long tradition of leadership in research, education and engagement initiatives focused on creating a more sustainable future for our communities and our world. This groundbreaking proposal leverages this leadership and will help us build even further on our impact. We look forward to working with our community to realize the great potential of this initiative, from further implementing our climate action plan to achieving energy savings and driving economic vitality in our region," Tripathi added.

UB is the lead agency in a consortium of Buffalo-based institutions in the Localizing Buffalo's Renewable Energy Future initiative.

The project aims to create 100 megawatts of new solar energy that will be manufactured in Buffalo, connected by Western New York workers and installed on properties in Buffalo's urban core and on several local college campuses, including UB, SUNY Buffalo State and Erie Community College.

It is estimated that the initiative will:

  • Produce $125 million in lower energy costs and savings
  • Create 3,300 new local jobs
  • Infuse more than $250 million in economic impact into the region
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 82,000 metric tons annually

The proposal will leverage the innovative work being done with Renewable Energy Purchase Agreements, or contracts to purchase power from a renewable energy project for a predetermined price over a specified period of time. This allows institutions like UB to work with project developers who finance the money needed to build a project while allowing energy purchasers to avoid the need to use up-front capital.

UB's localizing plan will enable multiple institutions to increase their purchasing power, which will significantly lower the price point. UB, SUNY Buffalo State and ECC each have committed to purchase 25 percent of their energy from the Localizing REPA, as long as the competitive price point falls well below their respective historical rolling average energy prices.

The project also aims to partner with the City of Buffalo and community organizations to utilize long-vacant properties throughout the city for solar panel siting, as well as city infrastructure - such as fire and police stations, parking lots and community centers - and local college campuses.

UB will look to its 3,200-photovoltaic panel solar strand for inspiration in integrating solar into Buffalo neighborhoods. The solar strand was designed to be accessible to the public - not fenced off to be avoided - while producing enough electricity to fuel 700 student apartments.

The Localizing Buffalo's Renewable Energy Future initiative symbolizes UB's commitment to sustainability, both on campus and within the larger community. Among its goals, the university strives to become climate neutral by 2030.

A recognized leader in sustainability in New York and across the nation, UB recently ranked No. 1 on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership list of the largest college and university green power users.

UB's project partners include: the City of Buffalo, SUNY Buffalo State, the Education Leadership Fellows in Sustainability program at UB, Erie Community College, Erie County, Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

"I would like to extend a personal thanks to our project partners, who were critical to the success of getting this proposal selected, as were our student, faculty and staff representatives who worked tirelessly on preparing the proposal," said Ryan McPherson, UB's chief sustainability officer. "This truly was a collaborative effort on a significant scale."

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