Maine’s Largest Solar Power Complex Proposed for Bowdoin

Proposed sites of proposed solar PV installation at Bowdoin, highlighted in yellow

Proposed sites of proposed solar PV installation at Bowdoin, highlighted in yellow

A proposed solar power complex at Bowdoin would be nearly eight times larger than any existing solar installation in Maine and would generate much of the energy used to power the school’s largest athletic facilities. The 1,300-kilowatt system, to be built partially on former Brunswick Naval Air Station land acquired by the College, would be supplemented by the installation of solar panels on the roofs of Bowdoin’s largest athletic facilities. Currently, a 170-kilowatt system at Thomas College in Waterville is the largest solar panel installation in Maine.

The proposed Bowdoin project would be a collaboration between the College and SolarCity Corp., headquartered in San Mateo, Calif. Under the proposal, SolarCity would finance, build, own, and maintain the solar installations on College property, with Bowdoin purchasing all generated power. The proposed multi-million dollar solar installation would be expected to generate approximately 1.6 million-kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, offsetting about 8% of Bowdoin’s annual electricity usage.

“Our college is proud to propose this significant investment in clean and renewable solar energy,” said President Barry Mills. “Our partnership with SolarCity reduces Bowdoin’s dependence on fossil fuels and makes sense for the College economically. It also provides meaningful educational opportunities for students and faculty focused on alternative energy and sustainability, and underscores Bowdoin’s continuing commitment to the responsible stewardship of our environment.”

“This is an important step forward for renewable energy in Maine and I am pleased to see Bowdoin College taking such an environmental leadership position,” — Everett “Brownie” Carson, former executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine

The proposal calls for approximately 600-kW of solar power capacity to be installed on the roofs of Farley Field House and Watson Arena, part of Bowdoin’s athletics complex located just south of the central campus. An additional 700-kW installation would be constructed on ground-mounted panels on three acres of the more than 127-acres of land recently acquired by Bowdoin at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station, located less than a mile from campus. Local, state and federal approvals will be required including approval from the U.S. Department of Education, which conveyed the Navy land to Bowdoin.

“This is an important step forward for renewable energy in Maine and I am pleased to see Bowdoin College taking such an environmental leadership position,” said Everett “Brownie” Carson, former executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine and a Bowdoin alumnus. “I hope this project inspires others to make significant investments in renewables in the State.”

Bowdoin’s solar power initiative is the latest effort to support renewable energy and efficiency at the Brunswick campus. Earlier projects include the installation of a cogeneration steam turbine in the central heating plant and the installation of solar thermal panels on the roof of Thorne Dining Hall and the Schwartz Outdoor Leadership Center.

For more information about Bowdoin’s ongoing sustainability efforts, including its commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020, visit the College’s sustainability website.

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