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College Marks Completion of Solar Project

October 14, 2013

 Atlantic Cape Community College celebrated the completion of a 2.2 megawatt solar photovoltaic project Thursday, Oct. 10, with a ceremony at the Cape May County Campus.

The project included the installation of carports and more than 2,000 solar panels in four parking lots on the Mays Landing and Cape May County campuses beginning in July. About 80 percent of the carport arrays are in Mays Landing.

Marina Energy LLC, a subsidiary of South Jersey Industries, designed and constructed the project, which will generate nearly 50 percent of Atlantic Cape’s total annual electric consumption, at a set rate, independent of market rates. Through this the agreement, Atlantic Cape will realize savings of nearly $100,000 the first year and up to $2 million over the 15-year life of the contract. The electricity generated per year will be equivalent to the amount needed to power approximately 220 homes. Monitors on each campus will provide a real-time visual reminder of the energy the solar panels are generating.

“The solar energy initiative at Atlantic Cape is an excellent example of using innovative strategies to promote energy sustainability as a key step in fulfilling our institutional commitment to environmental stewardship in two counties,” said Dr. Peter L. Mora, president.

Marina Energy used New Jersey labor and material suppliers, including Palmieri Electric of Buena and Southern New Jersey Steel Company of Vineland, to create jobs in and around the local community.

“At Marina Energy, we take great pride in projects like this that keep New Jersey a leader in renewable energy and create local jobs,” said Stephen Poniatowicz, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Marina Energy.

Atlantic Cape will also use the project as a teaching tool. “Our students will not only understand the theoretical aspects of solar energy, but, because of this installation, witness the daily generation and use of electricity,” said Dr. Patricia Gentile, dean of advancement, enrollment management and Cape May County Campus operations. “It’s a great teaching tool that cuts across the curriculum—of course important to learning in all sciences, but also economics, finance, political science, solving math problems, reflecting on the philosophical aspects of energy production and use, not to mention the actual solar technology used in the installation itself.”

The solar project ties in to Atlantic Cape’s Green Campus Initiative, which includes an Energy Master Plan to address and implement concepts supporting the New Jersey Energy Master Plan in reducing greenhouse emissions statewide, and moves the college toward environmental stewardship based on the efficient, responsible and sustainable use of resources. The college added a geothermal system in 2000 to heat and cool the B-building complex and will follow Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) criteria, as set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council, on its new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math building.