Solar Energy at the Mount
The project that has become Constellation Energy's solar farm, currently under construction on Mount St. Mary's East Campus, is the result of several events over a four year time span. In 2007, Mount President Thomas H. Powell signed the American College & University President's Climate Change Commitment (ACUPCC), pledging to reduce the Mount's greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately become "carbon neutral."
In 2009, the state of Maryland announced Generating Clean Horizons, an initiative to jumpstart renewable energy projects throughout the state. Constellation Energy decided to become part of this initiative by creating a solar farm. Since Mount St. Mary's University sits on 1,400 acres, Constellation Energy believed it would be an ideal place to construct a 100 acre solar farm. First Solar, a world leader in the manufacture of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems, signed with Constellation Energy and is the company currently on-site constructing the solar panels.
Aerial view of solar farm construction at the Mount
For the next 20 years, Constellation Energy will lease the land on the Mount's East Campus to construct the 17.4 megawatt farm. The renewable energy produced by the solar farm will be purchased by the University System of Maryland and Mount St. Mary's University. 16.1 MW will be utilized by the state of Maryland while the remaining 1.3 MW of power will go to the University, primarily the Mount's PNC Sports Complex.
Solar farm construction began September 2011 and completion is expected by December 2012
The solar farm is expected to produce more than 22,000,000 kilowatt hours of emissions-free electricity per year
Once completed, the solar power system will generate renewable electricity sources and take approximately 3,000 passenger vehicles off the road
The project is expected to employ an average of 75 employees with a peak of 150 people during construction; more than half of those workers will be classified as local employees
Not only will the solar farm help meet President Powell's climate change commitment to ACUPCC but it will also save the Mount energy costs; 1.3 MW will provide 2/3 of the annual energy needed to power East Campus
The project includes the construction of an educational pavilion which will contain displays and materials explaining and educating the public about the farm and renewable energy