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  • Office Location:
    315 Science Center
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    Clarkson University
    Box 5535
  • Phone: 315/268-4483

New Solar Array to Generate Nearly 10% of Clarkson University's Electricity Needs

A solar array nearing completion on 12 acres of land just outside of the Village of Potsdam will generate close to 10 percent of Clarkson University's electricity needs upon completion.

A solar array nearing completion on 12 acres of land just outside of the Village of Potsdam will generate close to 10 percent of Clarkson University's electricity needs upon completion.As part of its commitment to sustainability, Clarkson is partnering with Community Energy Solar, which designed and is building a 2 megawatt-AC solar array on the University's Route 11 property adjacent to the Potsdam airport, Damon Field.

Community Energy will own and operate the photovoltaic (PV) array. Clarkson will be the sole beneficiary of the power, which it will buy from Community Energy at approximately the same price it is buying power for right now.

Support for this project came from New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's NY-Sun initiative, which is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). NY-Sun is a $1 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar and move the state closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry.
"We are doing this to be green, because we are committed to sustainability, and to showcase this state-of-the-art technology," said Clarkson's chief financial officer, James D. Fish. "Our students will benefit greatly from this project, as the array will serve as a living laboratory, where they can study real-world solar energy generation."

In April, Clarkson became a signatory of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, agreeing to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions from specified campus operations and to promote the research and educational efforts of higher education to better equip society to re-stabilize the earth’s climate.
The 7,704 modules of the array will generate approximately 2.8 million kilowatt hours per year, equivalent to enough to provide the annual electric needs of 300 homes.

This is the equivalent of the power produced by burning 2,000 tons coal or 4,500 barrels of oil. The project will save 2,100 tons carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere annually.

Clarkson and Community Energy worked with the Village of Potsdam and the FAA to make sure that the solar array did not present any issues with Damon Field airport operations.

“We have partnered with some 50 colleges and universities over the last decade to supply them with wind and solar energy,” said Community Energy Solar Vice President of Development Operations Thomas J. Tuffey. “Clarkson is now in the point position with on-site generation of solar power at a meaningful scale to both meet the challenge of climate change and educate tomorrow's leaders. We have had a great experience partnering with Clarkson to develop and build this project and are happy to have it in our portfolio of over 1000 megawatts (MW) of developed renewable energy."

Activation of the solar array is currently planned for early November.

Sustainable practices are incorporated into every aspect of campus life at Clarkson, which has a number of convention-defying environmental initiatives, including an innovative and integrated greenhouse to grow vegetables in cold climates, coupled with an anaerobic digester to convert food waste to energy; and two sustainability minors: sustainable energy systems engineering and sustainable solutions for the developing world.

Clarkson has also adopted green building policies, such as a commitment to meeting at least LEED Silver criteria on all current and future construction. In 2012, the new Student Center building achieved LEED Silver certification.

Clarkson’s Institute for a Sustainable Environment sponsors workshops, seminars, and a small grants program, as well as undergraduate and graduate-level research experiences on a variety of projects around renewable energy, clean water, and air quality.

Since its inception in 1999, Community Energy has led the development and construction of more than 1000 MW of wind and solar generating facilities. Community Energy has used a pioneering mix of utility off-take approaches, renewable energy marketing programs, new financing structures, development expertise, and public funding and policy support to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy technologies at scale. With offices in Boulder, Colo., and headquarters in Radnor, Pa., Community Energy has a strong presence in both western and eastern renewable energy markets. For more information about Community Energy, please visit

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: A solar array nearing completion on 12 acres of land just outside of the Village of Potsdam will generate close to 10 percent of Clarkson University's electricity needs upon completion.

[A photograph for media use is available at .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or]

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