Jan 242010
Authors: Ryan Sheine

Using its newly-dedicated, clean energy solar power plant, CSU will be able to generate 10 percent of the energy needed for its Foothills Campus, energy officials involved in the project said Friday.

The two-megawatt CSU Foothills Campus Solar Array, which was dedicated Friday by Gov. Bill Ritter and university leadership, will benefit both CSU’s carbon footprint and its pocketbook, said Jose Benjumea, the president of Fotowatio Renewable Ventures.

“There will be $2 million in savings over the next 20 years,” said Benjumea, whose company was one of seven partners that collaborated on the project. “ … We will avoid five-and-a-half million pounds of carbon dioxide greenhouse gases.”

The array relies on almost 9,000 panels supplied by Trina Solar, a company based out of China, to produce 3.5 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity per year –– enough energy to power 2,100 homes annually.

It is located at the Foothills Campus, just west of the main Fort Collins campus, and covers 15 acres. It was funded through a mix of private loans and funding, an Xcel Energy reward program that gave CSU a rebate on the construction and public renewable energy tax credits and incentives.

Student government President Dan Gearhart said being a green campus is important because more people are looking for universities that provide green opportunities and jobs.

“It’s amazing, truly,” he said. “We really are the ‘Green University.’”

In a speech at the dedication, CSU President Tony Frank echoed Gearhart’s sentiments, saying the plant represents the school’s commitment to environmental sustainability and said it will also save CSU money that it can reinvest in its classrooms.

Staff writer Ryan Sheine can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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