Roxbury Community College to build ‘solar canopy’ for electricity


Roxbury Community College is receiving a $600,000 grant to fund a solar canopy that will power about 20 percent of the campus’s total electricity use, the Baker-Polito Administration said Friday.

The state Department of Energy Resources’s Leading by Example Solar Canopy Grant Program is funding the grant that will save the college more than $5 million over 20 years as a result of reduced electricity costs and projected revenue generated through Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, Matthew Beaton, energy and environmental affairs secretary, said in a statement.

The 2015 Leading by Example program is focused on installing solar photovoltaic parking canopies and electric vehicle charging stations at state facilities.

A bidding and contracting process for the solar canopy, which will cover almost 300 parking spaces in one parking lot, is expected to be completed by the end of this year, and construction will start in early 2016, a spokesperson said. The solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations are planned to be installed and running by summer 2016.

This 937-kilowatt solar project at Roxbury Community College could generate enough electricity to power 136 Massachusetts homes each year and is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 78 cars off the road each year, according to the office of energy and environmental affairs.

The Leading by Example program was created in 2007 by former governor Deval Patrick and set clean-energy targets for Massachusetts facilities. Over the last eight years, state agencies have met the 25 percent greenhouse gas reduction target, generating 15 percent of electricity demand from onsite renewable and combined heat and power systems, and reducing heating oil use by 72 percent, according to the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Solar carports are installed as covers over parked cars to generate clean renewable electricity and reduce the heat created by the pavement. Grants for canopies have been made to the new Walden Pond visitor center and the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus.

“Solar canopies are shining examples of Massachusetts’ commitment to clean, local energy, particularly at our state colleges, universities, state agencies and authorities,” Governor Charlie Baker said in a statement. “Massachusetts’ pledge to lead by example benefits every ratepayer in the Commonwealth as state facilities secure long-term energy savings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Roxbury Community College applied for the grant and was accepted based on several criteria, including financial pro forma, size requirement, and by demonstrating a specific procurement process and timeline.

Massachusetts hopes to reach at least 1,600 megawatts of solar energy by 2020. Only 949 megawatts of solar power, including about 3.5 megawatts of solar canopies, have been installed so far.

This story was updated at 10 a.m. to reflect updated statistics on solar installations in Massachusetts provided by the state’s Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.