GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Constellation, an Exelon company and a leading retail energy supplier, and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) held a ribbon-cutting event to celebrate the completion of a 5.01 MW (DC) solar project at NIST’s Gaithersburg campus. Comprised of nearly 15,000 panels — the equivalent of 11 football fields — the array is expected to produce more than 8 million kilowatt-hours of energy in the first year, accounting for about 4 percent of the campus’ energy consumption.
The array’s production is expected to prevent the release of an estimated 6,200 metric tons of carbon emissions annually, the greenhouse gas equivalent of removing more than 1,200 passenger vehicles from the road, based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates. The array is predicted to save NIST a minimum of $3.5 million in its first 20 years of operation.
“The new solar field shows how NIST, and our partners in government and commercial industry, are leading the way,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Walter G. Copan. “With this project, we get it all: cleaner air, lower costs and stronger support for private industry.”
The solar array was built through a Department of Energy contract program that allows federal agencies to procure energy-saving projects with no upfront capital costs or special Congressional appropriations. Constellation funded the project and will assume the cost to maintain the array and to repair and replace components over the 20-year contract period. NIST will buy the solar-generated electricity from Constellation during this period, at a rate about 30 percent lower than the agency’s normal cost for electricity. Constellation will own and operate the solar project including all associated environmental attributes and incentives.
“This project enables NIST to support the continued adoption of renewable energy at its campus and make a positive impact on the environment while managing its costs,” said Brendon Quinlivan, executive director, Distributed Energy Origination for Constellation. “We’re proud to deliver these results in the federal sector and help NIST achieve its sustainability goals.”
For Constellation, the project also satisfies the five megawatts of solar generation committed to Pepco’s Montgomery County (Md.) service area through the Exelon-Pepco Holdings merger in 2016.
NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. NIST is a nonregulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. To learn more about NIST, visit www.nist.gov.