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New Jersey School Goes Solar To Reduce Costs, Emissions

Blairstown, NJ-based boarding school Blair Academy has completed the installation of a 253-kilowatt solar electric system that is expected to meet nearly 7 percent of the campus' electric needs and save $16,500 in electricity costs during its first year of installation.

The school, which serves approximately 450 students, used a SurePath Solar power purchase agreement (PPA) from Tioga Energy to acquire and design the rooftop solar project across its recreational facilities. The solar panels themselves were installed by ProTech Energy Solutions.

The PPA follows a policy developed by Tioga, which owns and operates renewable energy systems and helps organizations develop clean energy plans that also hedge against energy price volatility. It calls for Blair Academy to purchase the electricity generated by the system for 20 years and for Tioga to own the system and manage the operation during that time.

In addition to the system's projected cost savings, Blair Academy will also be doing its part for the environment because the system "will prevent the release of more than 95 tons of CO2 each year," said John Drexinger, principal for Pro-Tech Energy Solutions who also said this "equates to approximately 205,000 vehicle miles not traveled" and "helps both the school and the State of New Jersey meet its clean energy and sustainability goals."

Solar energy is the latest instance of Blair Academy's environmental commitment, said James Frick, assistant headmaster for finance and operations at the school.

"We've demonstrated our success in a variety of manners, including a robust recycling program and a student-led movement to implement more efficient lighting," Frick said in a news release. "Our renewable energy initiative allowed us to raise the sustainability bar even higher" and "we are able to benefit from solar power and at the same time significantly cut our cost for electricity."

Blair Academy is a 164-year-old college preparatory school based near the Delaware Water Gap. With an endowment of $66.5 million, the school serves approximately 350 boarding students and 100 day students.

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About the Author

Jim Barthold is a freelance technology reporter. He can be reached at [email protected].