Harvard inks wind power deal

If you’ve gone as far as pricing a renewable energy system for your home, you may have suffered a bit of sticker shock: solar and wind systems can easily run $20,000 — $40,000 before any incentives. Now, imagine the prices on systems for large businesses and institutions. It’s no wonder that these big players have sought out alternatives to buying systems outright, and often entered into power purchase agreements (or PPAs) for energy produced by technology owned by others.

Harvard University went this route yesterday when it signed a contract with Boston-based wind energy developer First Wind. The university will purchase 50% of the energy created from a planned wind farm in Maine, which will cover 10% of its annual energy consumption. While that may seem like a low percentage, it equals 30 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy, according to The Harvard Crimson. It’s also in addition to other renewable generation in the works at the school, including wind turbines for the Soldier Field Parking Garage, and a 500 kWh solar array on a building in Watertown.

Not only will this help the University achieve its goal of a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2006 levels, but will likely save it money: these agreements usually provide set rates for power (a nice hedge against any volatility in the prices of natural gas or coal).

A smart move on many fronts… which you’d expect from the Ivy League. Know of other institutions buying renewable power this way? Share them below…

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/johndan/ / CC BY 2.0