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Solar goes to school: Power-generating panels cover community college parking lots

Photovoltaic arrays serve as carports on parking lots at the Community College of Baltimore County.
Photovoltaic arrays serve as carports on parking lots at the Community College of Baltimore County. (Community College of Baltimore County)

Students attending the Community College of Baltimore County this fall have started parking with power.

The two-year institution now has 16,500 solar panels covering more than 1,400 parking spaces on its three campuses in Catonsville, Dundalk and Essex.

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Built by Constellation, the 5.1-megawatt project is expected to generate 6.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. That's enough to power about 540 homes - or, in this case, to furnish 27 percent of the campuses' power needs, according to school officials.

Constellation, a division of Exelon Corp., retains ownership of the photovoltaic system and is selling the electricity to CCBC. College officials say they expect to save $4 million over the 20-year life of the power purchase agreement.

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The CCBC project, which drew dignitaries for a celebration Thursday, adds to Maryland's growing power generation from the sun. Last year, a total of 73 MW of solar electric capcity were installed in the state, ranking it 12th nationally, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

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