Sustainable Power Group (sPower) has announced the installation and commissioning of solar power generation systems on the rooftops of the Natural History Museum of Utah, Salt Lake City, and the HPER East Building at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. The Natural History Museum’s system is a 330kW system and the HPER East system is a 263kW system. The combined systems consist of 2,470 photovoltaic (PV) panels covering 40,000 square feet of rooftop space. sPower partnered with Okland Construction, Salt Lake City, to build the systems, and McCalmont Engineering, Campbell, Calif., to design and engineer the systems.

sPower will own and operate the systems for 20 years and will sell the power to the University of Utah under the terms of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). This third-party ownership arrangement was made possible due to a $125,000 Blue Sky Grant from Rocky Mountain Power, as well as a $1,000,000 grant awarded to the university through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"We are excited about this system for numerous reasons, including the long-term direct financial benefits from solar energy, the duty that we feel to be good stewards of our planet, and the educational opportunities that this will offer our students," said Dr. David Pershing, president of the University of Utah. "This project is consistent with our Energy and Environmental Stewardship Initiative: 2010 Climate Action Plan, wherein we set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050."

"We consider these projects to be a showcase of how a public entity and a private entity can work together to create sustainable energy while at the same time saving the university money," said Ryan Creamer, CEO of sPower. "The University of Utah has truly made a significant investment in securing a long-term, clean, and affordable energy source for the future."

The EPA estimates that over the 20-year life of the system, the CO2 offset of the University’s new solar-energy system will be the equivalent of planting 28,368 tree seedlings or the amount of carbon sequestered by 2,360 acres of pine or fir forests.