Federal Stimulus to Fund University Solar Farm

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NJ School of Conservation Wins $2.65 Million Grant to Become Sustainability Showcase Site--300,000-Watt Solar Array Will Fully Power NJSOC and Reduce Carbon Footprint

The New Jersey School of Conservation (NJSOC), Montclair State University’s environmental education and field research campus, has been awarded a $2.65 million grant by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) as part of a competitive grant program for innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at state facilities. The grant will allow the installation of a 300,000-watt solar farm that will meet all of the School’s electricity needs as well as generate excess power for use by local utilities.

The solar farm, which is expected to be operational in late 2011, will be comprised of 1,400 200-watt modules on a half-acre tract site within the NJSOC. The solar arrays will feed into a bank of 24 Solectric inverters that will convert the DC electricity into AC electricity and feed into the facility’s main circuit breaker panels.

“We anticipate that the proposed installation of the ‘solar farm’ will serve as a sustainability showcase and generate high interest in solar energy among the over 9,000 students and teachers that visit the NJSOC each year,” said Dr. William H. Thomas, director of the NJSOC. “It will also promote the training of undergraduate and graduate students, expand the number of on-site courses offered by Montclair State, and create research opportunities in keeping with regional priorities for open space, clean energy generation, and biodiversity in the most densely populated state in the nation,” Thomas added.

The grant was awarded from the NJBPU is funded with federal stimulus money allocated to New Jersey's State Energy Program (SEP) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

In addition to energy cost savings, the U.S. EPA estimates the facility’s clean electricity solar system will reduce atmospheric emissions of 3,938 tons of CO2, 22,859 tons of NOx, and 14,730 pounds of SO2 over a 30-year period.

“The NJSOC’s solar farm presents Montclair State with a unique opportunity to apply state-of-the-art technology to renewable energy practices, attract and educate new and existing students for potential career opportunities in this sector, and contribute to a sustainable New Jersey,” said Michael P. Weinstein, director of the University’s PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies.

The New Jersey School of Conservation
The New Jersey School of Conservation (NJSOC) is the environmental field campus of Montclair State’s College of Science and Mathematics. Established in 1949, the NJSOC is the oldest university operated environmental field center in the United States. Today, the NJSOC provides an array of environmental education programs and serves over 7,000 students and teachers each year. It is located sixty miles from Montclair State University’s main campus on a 240-acre tract in the Stokes State Forest of Sussex County New Jersey. The NJSOC is at the center of 30,000 acres of state forest and federal lands, surrounded the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Stokes State Forest, High Point State Park, and a mosaic of properties held by the Nature Conservancy and the Conservation Trust.

Montclair State University
Montclair State offers the advantages of a large university -- a comprehensive undergraduate curriculum with a global focus, a broad variety of superior graduate programs through the doctoral level, and a diverse faculty and student body -- combined with a small college's attention to students.

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Diane Reed
Montclair State University
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