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Partnerships are getting their moments in the sun

Advocates point to a campus solar project as a success

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A solar project at William Paterson University involved installing panels in parking lots on its campus, in Wayne. The project was completed through the Economic Development Authority.
A solar project at William Paterson University involved installing panels in parking lots on its campus, in Wayne. The project was completed through the Economic Development Authority. - (FILE)

Time is running out for colleges and universities to apply to the Economic Development Authority to have capital construction projects be part of a public-private partnership.

The law establishing the parameters of these projects expires Aug. 1, and higher education stakeholders hope the law is extended after seeing successful projects take root.

Steve Bolyai, vice president for administration and finance at William Paterson University, said the school already is saving several hundred thousand dollars each year thanks to a solar panel project that was completed under the legislation.

“Quite frankly, we're hoping that the legislation will be extended,” Bolyai said. “It gives us options.”

William Paterson used the public-private format to engage private companies for a feasibility study, and eventually for a power purchasing agreement, to complete an installation that provides 20 percent of the campus' power.

“In our case, both the company that did the financing and the company that was hired to be the installer — did the design and the installation — were both New Jersey companies, so there was an immediate benefit to the state and immediate economic benefits,” Bolyai said. “It's all home-grown companies.”

“We're very conscious of the cost of education for our students. It gives us an opportunity to be able to run the university more efficiently, so that we're watching our costs,” Bolyai said. “We know what our fixed cost of electricity will be for the next 15 years.”

Bolyai said the university would look to engage private companies again as it assesses its need for new student residents, just as other universities have.

In addition to the College of New Jersey and Rowan University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology is using public-private partnerships to construct new housing and mixed-use space on its campus. The Warren Street Village is the first phase of the larger Campus Gateway project.

According to NJIT, the Gateway project is designed to be driven by private investment in a public-private partnership.

E-mail to: melindac@njbiz.com
On Twitter: @mcaliendo33

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