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Columbia’s solar offsetting hits 100 percent

SunEdison Inc., a global renewable energy development company, in partnership with solar developer Bithenergy, announced Friday that Columbia is now offsetting 100 percent of its energy use from renewable sources. Columbia now sources 75 percent of its energy from wind renewable energy credits and 25 percent from a newly completed 2-megawatt DC solar farm in SunEdison and Bithenergy’s Nixon Farm solar project in West Friendship.

The 2 MW solar farm is expected to generate enough energy to power more than 250 homes and avoid the emission of more than two million pounds of carbon dioxide, equivalent to taking 220 cars off the road.

Columbia is home to approximately 100,000 people and is managed by the nonprofit service corporation Columbia Association. The nonprofit is purchasing the solar power for the community through a 20-year power purchase agreement with SunEdison. The solar farm is located outside of Columbia and via virtual net metering credits the community can enjoy the benefits of solar without the need to locate the solar farm on-site.

“With the completion of the Nixon Farm solar power plant, the people of Columbia now enjoy the environmental and cost benefits of getting 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources,” said Steve Raeder, SunEdison’s general manager of Eastern U.S. commercial and industrial solar. “Solar energy is a clean, reliable source of energy that makes great financial sense for communities across the U.S.”

Jeremy Scharfenberg, Columbia Association’s energy manager, said the group is proud to be a leader in clean energy.

“The SunEdison solar installation is a key component of our renewable energy strategy, providing 25 percent of our power requirements,” he said. “By supplementing Nixon Farm’s solar energy with wind-based renewable energy certificates, we’ve been able to achieve our sustainability goals and reduce our carbon footprint by more than half.”

SunEdison provided its high performance solar panels and financing for the construction of the project, while solar developer Bithenergy originated the project with Columbia Association and completed the permitting, site work, and pre-construction services for the project. SolAmerica was contracted as the engineering, procurement, and construction firm to build the solar power plant to SunEdison’s specifications.

The operation and maintenance of the solar power plant will be performed by SunEdison Services, which provides asset management, monitoring and reporting services.