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Jun 24, 2014 05:37 AM EDT

American Universities Partner With Solar Power Farms to Reduce Carbon Footprint

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These companies had a terrible 2017

In an attempt to reduce carbon footprint, two American Universities have signed a 20-year energy agreement with Duke Energy Renewable.

The George Washington University, American University and the George Washington University Hospital will tap solar energy directly from the company's three new solar power farms to be built in North Carolina. The deal with Duke Energy Renewables does not mandate up-front capital costs for either school.

The three solar farms with 43,000 solar panels are estimated to produce 123 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, beginning 2015. The solar energy production will eliminate around 60,000 metric tons of carbon emissions per year which is equivalent to removing 12,500 cars from the road.

The Solar Energy Industries Association said that this is the country's largest non-utility solar power energy deal. The Capita Partners Solar Project will also be the largest photovoltaic solar power operation east of the Mississippi River.

The deal charges relatively lower price for solar energy when compared to school that currently utilise for power. The University officials are hoping to save millions of dollars as the price of conventional power is predicted to increase.

"We'll be directly sourcing our electricity from three solar energy sites," said George Washington University President Steven Knapp. "We're not just buying certificates for renewable energy. We're actually directly sourcing from renewable energy. The impact of that is pretty huge," abc reports.

Last year, GWU spent about $13 million on electricity and American University about $5 million.

American University President Neil Kerwin said that the school aims at becoming carbon-neutral by 2020.

"We felt an institution our size in partnership with one the size of GW could send a pretty strong message about both the feasibility and the wisdom of both the partnership and the move toward renewable sources of energy," Kerwin said.

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