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Vassar College announces new community solar project that will provide more than 15 percent of its electricity needs

Vassar College has reached an agreement with BQ Energy, of Wappingers Falls, to purchase about 15 percent of its electricity needs through a community solar project in Esopus, about 12 miles west of the campus.

The agreement is part of the college’s ongoing efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. Thanks to student leadership, the college will also be installing solar panels at The Vassar Barns, home of the Environmental Cooperative, this spring.

Alistair Hall, Vassar’s sustainability coordinator, called the college’s recent projects a team effort. “These initiatives would not happen if it were not for the ideas, energy, and initiative of countless students, employees, and the support of the entire Vassar community,” Hall said.

The solar arrays will not only reduce the college’s carbon footprint and provide new educational opportunities but will also save the college money on its utility bills. Total savings the first year are estimated at $20,000, Hall said. The project also provides an opportunity for upwards of 200 local businesses and residents to benefit from reduced utility bills.

Vassar President Elizabeth Bradley called the project “a ‘win-win’ for Vassar and for the environment. We’re proud to support this community solar project, which leverages the college’s purchasing power while promoting the use of clean, renewable energy.”

The Vassar project is scheduled to be completed by early next year. It is located on the site of the former Town of Esopus landfill in Ulster County. Solar panels already on the site are generating power for the town’s government offices and water treatment plant.

BQ Energy Managing Director Paul Curran says the Vassar project is one of several the firm is undertaking in the region.  “We do all of our projects on former landfills or other ‘brownfield’ sites that can’t be used for anything else,” Curran said. “Every one of our projects has environmental benefits while saving our clients money.”

BQ Energy is operating similar solar projects for the State University of New York at Buffalo, Canisius College and St. Bonaventure University in upstate New York. A solar project located on the City of Beacon’s former landfill will provide the bulk of electricity for the city government offices starting in May, Curran said.

In addition to the project with BQ Energy, Vassar purchases about 10 percent of its electricity needs from Gravity Renewables, a firm that operates a hydroelectric plant in Beacon.

BQ Energy, founded in 2002, builds renewable energy projects on brownfields and landfills. The firm has developed award-winning renewable energy projects throughout the United States. For more information please visit or call (845) 473-0300.

Vassar College is a coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college based in Poughkeepsie, NY and founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Tuesday, May 15, 2018