Vassar College announces two major clean energy initiatives, enabling the college to meet more than 20% of its electricity needs

An example of a solar farm project.

In a strong move toward clean, renewable energy for its campus, Vassar College has announced two new initiatives: a solar project with BQ Energy and an agreement with the hydro power company Gravity Renewables.

“Vassar College is committed to reducing its carbon footprint as one of the ways to address the challenge of climate change threatening our planet.  These two renewable energy projects contribute to our goal of reaching carbon neutrality as quickly as possible, while also supporting the renewable energy sector, which will need to be part of the global solution to climate change,” said President Catharine Bond Hill.

The 2 megawatt (MW) solar farm will be in the town of Northeast at a decommissioned landfill that hasn’t been in operation since the early 1990s. Once built, the solar array will provide the college with 11 percent of its energy needs and allow Vassar to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions over the 20-year period of the operating agreement. BQ Energy, a company based in Poughkeepsie, specializes in brownfield project development.

Paul Curran, managing director of BQ Energy noted, “Vassar’s decision to procure a significant amount of their electricity needs from area renewable energy projects is very consistent with their stated values and plans for the future. By facilitating the development of utility scale solar energy, Vassar is making a significant contribution to the peak hour strength of the electric power grid in New York State and the Hudson Valley.”

The hydro power is provided via an agreement with Gravity Renewables that will give the college access to clean power generated at the Groveville Hydro Facility, owned and operated by leading renewable energy company Enel Green Power North America, which has 90 MW of renewable energy in the state of New York and more than 2,000 MW of installed capacity in the US and Canada. The Groveville facility produces 1.9 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year—enough to provide approximately 10 percent of the College’s annual energy use.  The agreement with Gravity will help significantly reduce Vassar’s greenhouse gas emissions over the 20-year operating agreement.

“Vassar College’s investment in clean, dependable hydro energy is great news for the college, the environment and the local economy,” said Ted Rose, CEO of Gravity Renewables. “This project’s impact goes beyond the climate change benefits. Vassar is supporting one of New York’s historic economic drivers—each small hydro facility employs local operators, pays taxes, and supports the local economy.”

Vassar’s initiatives are in line with New York State’s national clean energy leadership role. The state, as outlined in the New York REV plan (Reforming the Energy Vision), supports utilizing distributed renewable energy as an important step in bringing the clean energy economy to scale.

“We applaud and support steps taken by Vassar College to employ renewable energy, and we are pleased to recognize the example they set in utilizing locally produced distributed generation,” said James P. Laurito, president and chief executive officer of Central Hudson. “As the current owner of three hydroelectric stations and a former owner of the Groveville plant, we understand the importance of maintaining local and historic renewable generating facilities, and we are certainly pleased that the electricity produced will be utilized by one of the region’s premier educational centers. Vassar College is also taking steps to reduce its electricity needs by participating in Central Hudson’s lighting program to install high efficiency lighting fixtures. Taken together, these measures demonstrate Vassar’s genuine commitment to protecting the environment and are consistent with the goals outlined in New York’s Renewing the Energy Vision initiative.”

About BQ Energy
BQ Energy, founded in 2002, is a worldwide leader in renewable energy projects on brownfields and landfills. They have developed award-winning renewable energy projects throughout the US. In August of this year, they participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony for a 1 MW solar project constructed on top of the Patterson, NY (Putnam County) landfill. This month they are scheduled to start construction in Lackawanna, NY at a closed steel making site on a 10 MW solar project. This will make that brownfield property the first in the US to host both utility-scale wind based power generation and utility-scale solar. BQ Energy is based in Poughkeepsie, NY. For more information please visit or call (845) 473-0300.

About Gravity Renewables
Gravity Renewables is a leading national owner, operator and developer of small hydroelectric power plants. Small hydropower provides predictable, reliable, affordable clean energy that’s locally produced. By making a long-term commitment to these neighborhood facilities, Gravity restores and conserves important historical sites, employs local operators and promotes educational and recreational opportunities in the communities it serves. Gravity currently has 34 MW of hydroelectric projects operating and under development across the country. For more information please visit or call (303) 440-3378. Follow Gravity Renewables on Twitter or Facebook.

About Vassar College
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

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Posted by Office of Communications Wednesday, September 16, 2015