George Washington University, American University and George Washington University Hospital entered a 20-year partnership with Duke Energy Renewables to buy at least half their power from the firm's soon-to-be-built solar farms in North Carolina.
The Capital Partners Solar Project is set to break ground in the coming months at a spot by Elizabeth City, N.C., The Associated Press reported. The three solar farms — to be outfitted with 243,000 solar panels and capable of generating 123 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year — will be operational in 2015, firm officials said.
The Solar Energy Industries Association said the agreement represents the largest solar purchase for a non-utility in national history, AP reported.
"We'll be directly sourcing our electricity from three solar energy sites," said George Washington University president Steven Knapp, in the AP report. "We're not just buying certificates for renewable energy. We're actually directly sourcing from renewable energy. The impact of that is pretty huge."
The 20-year deal includes a price fix for solar that's lower that what the colleges currently pay for conventional power, AP reported. George Washington spent $13 million in 2013 on electricity; American University, about $5 million. Both schools say they could save millions each year by the partial switch to solar, AP reported.
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