April 11, 2013 - Georgetown University is going solar with SolarCity on a project that is expected to cut the school's energy bills by tens of thousands of dollars and reduce more than 600,000 pounds of carbon pollution over its lifetime. The student-spearheaded initiative, Solar Street, installed 75 solar panels across rooftops of six university-owned historic townhouses on the scenic campus in the nation's capital. The project was unveiled today in an on-campus ribbon cutting ceremony.
"Georgetown is pleased to be leading the first university solar electricity project of its scale on a historic residential block in Washington, DC," said Robin Morey, vice president for planning and facilities management at the university. "This project serves as a strong symbol of Georgetown's commitment to sustainable buildings, and it demonstrates Georgetown's local leadership as a partner in the Mayor's College and University Sustainability Pledge by helping to advance the District's goal to increase solar energy capacity."
SolarCity expects the project to offset an average of approximately 40 percent of the electricity used in each townhouse, and provide up to $43,000 in savings to the student body government over the 20-year life of the power purchase agreement. These savings represent the difference between the cost of the solar power and the higher cost that the University would otherwise pay to their electricity provider for electricity in those residences.
"We're excited to be helping a great university like Georgetown go solar and save money," said SolarCity's Mid-Atlantic Regional Vice President Leon Keshishian. "As a Georgetown alum, I'm proud to be helping the school make smart energy decisions."
The project represents Georgetown's first university-student partnership on a solar energy project. Students pay for the solar power produced by the arrays, while the University has provided the funding to bring the homes up to solar readiness by installing new, higher-amperage electrical panels. Additionally, the University has contributed in-kind professional staff time for activities such as a preliminary feasibility analysis, soliciting and reviewing the vendor bids, and providing legal, financial, and architectural review.
The portion of the townhouse residents' total housing costs that are allotted toward utilities in a given year will not change from prior years, because students' electricity usage levels are not expected to change. The main change is a new housing billing structure that was implemented this fall under which townhouse students pay a flat fee for housing each semester, similar to students in Georgetown's other on-campus housing.