While designing the new Health and Wellness Complex, Muskingum University (MU) saw an opportunity to reduce emissions and electricity bills by showcasing renewable energy to its students, alumni, and the broader community. Never having engaged a solar PV system of this scale, MU staff and leadership first sought to understand the potential costs and benefits of solar and the state of the market. MU hired Go to help perform an economic feasibility analysis and strategically engage the market to obtain comparable vendor bids.
We convened MU stakeholders to identify the primary project goals and constraints. This led to a utility analysis where we estimated potential energy use of the new complex, based on design team input, to understand how campus electricity consumption might increase once the complex was fully operational. This allowed us to develop a “business-as-usual” case for energy and economic performance before considering solar. Working with MU alumni at McCalmont Engineering, we developed and analyzed multiple solar installations scenarios considering sizes, financing mechanisms, and market expectations to model against the business-as-usual case.
After reviewing the potential project economics, MU stakeholders agreed to engage the market in early 2021. We drafted and issued a Requests for Proposal (RFP) for a solar array at the Health and Wellness Complex based on MU stakeholder feedback. We then answered vendor questions, reviewed vendor responses, assisted with vendor interviews, and provided technical guidance throughout contract negotiations.
MU selected the top three respondents to interview and eventually selected a vendor in the fall of 2021. As of fall 2022, an approximately 1 MW solar array is under construction atop the new Health and Wellness Complex with project completion anticipated in October of 2022!
Fun Fact: MU’s team is working with the solar vendor / installer, their accountants, and legal team to leverage more favorable funding mechanisms to finance this project and leverage federal depreciation and tax credits. MU’s team has begun to speak about their process to other higher education entities and a scholarly publication or a white paper is in development. We will provide details to presentations and publications here as they are finalized.
Teaser: We will update this profile with an actual aerial photograph once the project is operational.
Renewable Energy Consultant, Technical Advisor
Gregory Raffio, PE, LEED AP BD+C