On Wednesday, May 7 Stonehill celebrated the completion of a 2.7 megawatt solar field which is located across from its main campus on Route 138 in Easton. The 9,000 solar panel field is the largest on a New England college campus according to the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) database.
Solect Energy of Hopkinton, MA, the leading commercial solar energy project developer in the state, built the 15-acre solar field while the entire project was overseen by Power Management, Inc., an energy consulting firm which manages over 15,000 commercial and industrial utility meters throughout North America.
The field is expected to save the College over $185,000 a year or an estimated $3.2 million over the course of a 15-year contract it signed with New Jersey-based Marina Energy. The energy produced is expected to account for 20% of Stonehill’s electrical usage.
“I want to note the theme that defines what we have accomplished here with the Solar Field. Collaboration, listening, learning, engaging, debating, give and take, and, finally, achieving. An idea cropped up, together we explored it and then we found partners and neighbors to help us to make it happen. It has been an effective process with great cooperation,” said Stonehill President John Denning, C.S.C. in his remarks at Wednesday's ceremony.
In addition to thanking the many people involved with making the project a reality, President Denning also gave credit to Stonehill’s students who saw the potential for solar energy on campus and argued persuasively for the College to explore that option.
“We are proud of how our students showed initiative and how they made their case on an issue about which they felt so passionate,” said Fr. Denning.
Returning to campus to take part in the ribbon cutting ceremony was Nicole Corbett ’13, who played an integral role in promoting the benefits of a solar field to Stonehill administrators. “(She) was the first student to push us toward solar with great persistence,” noted Stonehill Environmental Studies Program Director Susan Mooney. “She started on it in fall 2010 and kept it going, researching options, and meeting with college officials.”
Despite graduating last year, Corbett kept a close eye on the project and seeing her idea finally come to fruition was “very very exciting. It’s one thing to just picture it in your head but to see it in person, it’s unbelievable,” said Corbett, who was invited to take part in the ribbon ceremony alongside President Denning, Easton Town Administrator David Colton and Senator Brian Joyce.