ASU trustees to consider State Farm solar project
by Anna Oakes
A two-acre solar photovoltaic system at the State Farm parking lot could soon be the newest green energy demonstration project at Appalachian State University.
ASU's Renewable Energy Initiative and staff members will ask the university's board of trustees on March 22 to request permission to lease the State Farm parking lot from the North Carolina Department of Administration.
"Our student Renewable Energy Initiative is very involved with the project and will be providing limited support for any potential deal," said Mike O'Connor, ASU Physical Plant director.
According to board of trustees meeting materials, the student Renewable Energy Initiative and ASU propose to lease the lot to a developer to build a solar photovoltaic system over an area comprising about two acres of the five-acre lot. The system would be built on frames to allow for parking underneath the solar panels.
The proposal to be presented to the trustees states that a developer would build the project to ASU's specifications and own the system for at least five years while taking advantage of federal and state tax credits.
During this time the developer would sell the electricity generated to a local or regional utility. The developer would also agree to sell renewable energy credits to ASU, to be purchased using Renewable Energy Initiative funds. The REI is funded by student fees.
At some point in the future, the developer would give or sell the system back to ASU, and the university would own the system, the electricity and the credits generated, according to the proposal.
"We are still developing the request for proposal, and have not advertised the project," O'Connor said. "So, we still have a long way to go before this dream becomes a reality."