Niagara University announced that it has partnered with Montante Solar to develop and maintain a solar array on its Lewiston, N.Y., campus. The array, which is expected to generate four megawatts at peak solar capacity, is targeted to be operational in late 2023 and represents another major step forward in the university’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
“Pope Francis has implored each one of us to be better citizens of this planet and stewards of the environment, asking us ‘What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?’” said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University. “As a binational institution located near one of the world’s most recognizable natural resources, Niagara University is committed to protecting our environment, and we are proud to be a leader in ensuring that everyone, especially future generations, have access to a safe, healthy, and sustainable environment.”
The project will convert 17 acres of vacant land near Niagara’s Witmer Road entrance into a solar power farm that will provide renewable power to the university. Post-mounted bifacial tracker panels will follow the sun during the day to maximize production, using both direct and indirect sunlight, and minimize the array’s footprint. As part of the project, the invasive species of plants that are currently found there will be replaced with native pollinators to further enhance the environment.
“Niagara University is redefining the industrial legacy that has historically prevailed over this part of Niagara County,” said Dan Montante, co-founder and president of Montante Solar. “Strong vision and leadership has transformed what was once idle property into a truly unique educational experience for students, while supplying the university with low-cost renewable power; a true ‘win’ for the community.”
Niagara’s efforts toward its goal of carbon neutrality have included planting hundreds of trees on campus; the construction of its LEED Gold-certified, 50,000-square-foot integrated science center; the use of solar panels and live plants on roofs; the installation of four electric car charging stations on campus; and a campuswide conversion to LED lighting, an initiative that decreased electric consumption for lighting by more than 50 percent.
The university is annually featured in the Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges and, in 2019, was honored by the Niagara USA Chamber with its “Green Initiative Award.”