Furman University’s $1.7 million solar facility is online and supplying the campus with electrical power.
According to Furman, the facility is the largest of its kind on a college campus in South Carolina. It has 2,994 solar panels across six acres of land along Poinsett Highway near the campus.
“We flipped the switch last week and connected the solar farm to the electrical grid on campus,” said Jeff Redderson, Furman’s associate vice president for facility and campus services, in a news release. “The additional solar power will reduce our campus-wide electricity expenditures by up to 5% annually and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 3%.”
Redderson added there is a 743-kilowatt photovoltaic array set up to meter the power. He said any excess power generated can be sold back to Duke Energy. The reduction in energy costs will bring a return on investment for the project in eight years, he said.
Elizabeth Davis, Furman University president, said the installation of the solar facility makes the university “proud to be a leader in our sustainability programs and renewable energy systems.”
“In addition to increasing the university’s solar power production and reducing our energy costs, the new solar facility will serve as a laboratory for Furman students pursuing careers in sustainability,” Davis said, in the release. “We are constantly working to become a more sustainable campus, and this project is another example of our commitment to that goal.”
Davis said the new solar installation will also help Furman reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2026, the year of the university’s bicentennial.
Duke Energy contributed to the project by providing Furman with a $997,000 solar rebate, one of the company’s largest to date. The company launched its rebate program in October 2015 to assist South Carolina customers with the cost of installing solar, according to the university.
Furman contracted with PowerSecure Solar, a North Carolina-based company with a local office in Greenville, to oversee the solar installation.