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Jul 14, 2014 06:44 AM EDT

Bowdoin Building State’s Largest Solar Power Complex

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Bowdoin College is building the state's largest solar power complex.

The officials said that the 1.2 megawatt, 4,500-panel complex will be seven times the size of Maine's existing installation. Panels will be fixed on rooftops of several buildings including the Farley Field House, Greason Pool, Sidney J. Watson Arena and a residence hall located at 52 Harpswell Road.

Besides these rooftop systems, a 700-kW ground-mount installation will be placed on three acres owned by the college on the former Brunswick Naval Air Station land.

Bowdoin and SolarCity Corp. are collaborating on the project. As per the agreement, SolarCity will fund, build, own and maintain the solar installations, while Bowdoin will purchase all of the generated power.

President Barry Mills said that the project lowers college's dependence on fossil fuels and also educates students and faculty on alternative energy and sustainability.

"Our college is proud to be moving forward with this significant investment in clean and renewable solar energy," Mills said in a statement. "Our partnership with SolarCity reduces Bowdoin's dependence on fossil fuels and makes sense for the college economically. And underscores Bowdoin's continuing commitment to the responsible stewardship of our environment."

Officials estimate that the multi-million dollar solar installation will reduce the college's annual electricity costs by 8 percent.

S. Catherine Longley, Bowdoin's senior vice president of finance and administration & treasurer, said that the solar power initiative is Bowdoin's latest effort to support renewable energy and become carbon neutral by 2020.

Previous electrical efficiency projects include the installation of a cogeneration facility in the central heating plant and the installation of solar thermal panels on the roof of Thorne Hall and the Schwartz Outdoor Leadership Center.

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