3 Boston institutions finance NC solar farm
MIT and BMC help finance 60 megawatt facility
THREE BOSTON-AREA INSTITUTIONS are financing the construction of one of the largest renewable energy projects in the United States, a 60-megawatt solar farm in North Carolina.
MIT, Boston Medical Center, and the Post Office Square Redevelopment Corporation said on Wednesday they had signed a 25-year contract to purchase the power output from the project’s 255,000 solar panels. The power purchase agreement paved the way for the financing of the solar project, which is being developed by Dominion Resources in North Carolina’s Currituck County and scheduled to start operating later this year.
MIT agreed to buy 73 percent of the project’s power output, Boston Medical Center committed to 26 percent, and Post Office Square to 1 percent. The Post Office Square Redevelopment Corp. developed and manages the Garage at Post Office Square and the park above it.
The companies intend to purchase the power generated by the solar farm and then resell it into the power grid in North Carolina. Robert Biggio, vice president of facilities and support services at Boston Medical Center, said the Boston-area institutions hope to break-even on the transaction.
The agreement will allow MIT, Boston Medical Center, and the Post Office Square Redevelopment Corp. to offset a significant portion of their greenhouse gas emissions. Biggio said the solar power purchase, together with a $300 million campus redesign, should allow the hospital to become carbon-neutral by the end of 2018.
The 60-megawatt solar farm is much larger than any similar facility in New England, but it is still much smaller than most conventional power plants. The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is 680, for example, ios 680 megawatts.Biggio said the three institutions decided on the North Carolina project rather than one closer to home after realizing the 650-acre facility could only be located in certain areas of the country. He also said North Carolina tends to rely on coal-fired power plants more than New England, so building the facility there will have the effect of reducing dependence on the dirtier fuel.
Maria Zuber, MIT’s vice president for research, said she believes the project demonstrates what is possible. “We believe our experience can help catalyze similar investments in clean energy, which will be vital to achieving a zero-carbon global energy system within this century,” she said in a statement.