What is now the largest solar power array in Southwestern Ohio should provide between 10 to 100 percent of the power needs of Cedarville University depending on the energy demands of any particular day, officials said at a Friday afternoon dedication.
The 2.15 megawatt array on 10 acres on the southwest edge of campus will pay off investors on its cost of between $6 million and $7 million within five years, said Melink Corporation, the Milford-based array developer and engineer. It should have a lifespan of up to 30 years. The panels, produced by REC Solar, carry a warranty for 25 years.
With 8,792 crystalline photovoltaic panels, the installation ranks as the largest solar array in Ohio feeding power to a university or college. The economics of the project are helped with a federal investment tax credit worth 30 percent of the cost along with accelerated depreciation, said Jeremy Chapman, business development manager for Melink.
Steve Melink, president of Melink, said he worked with project partners U.S. Bancorp, Union Bank & Trust Company, DP&L Energy, Yellow Springs Renewable Energy, TMI Electric, and the village of Cedarville to put the installation together. The array is owned by Melink and the two banks. The university, with about 2,500 students living on campus, has an option to purchase the array after 10 years of operation. In the meantime, Melink will sell the power.
“It is our hope that this success will inspire other schools and universities to consider clean and affordable renewable energy solutions,” Melink said.
If the panels were supplying power to homes, they would be able to serve the power needs of 250 average homes, Colin Derhammer, senior design engineer for Melink, said. Power began flowing directly into the university’s distribution system Monday — Earth Day, Derhammer said.
“This is a fine example of a public-private initiative to benefit the university and community,” Tom Marchael, vice president of Union Bank & Trust Company, said.
Added John Gredy, Cedarville University Provost: “I’m happy to know Cedarville University has taken the initiative to lead in renewable energy among Ohio universities.”
“This is a great day for our region,” Robert Fudge, Cedarville’s mayor, said.