Davidson Joins Higher Ed Partnership to Bring Large-Scale Solar Plant Online to Offset 100% of Campus Electrical Use

a field of solar panels on a sunny day

Cool Springs Solar Energy Center, image by NextEra Energy Resources

Davidson College and eight other colleges and universities in North Carolina and Pennsylvania are joining forces to bring an innovative, large-scale solar facility online in western Kentucky. The schools are collaborating on a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) that delivers the benefits of renewable energy through a deal typically only feasible for large customers.

“This unique collaboration allows us to harness a new source of clean energy that brings economic development and expands availability of carbon-neutral electricity in Kentucky,” Davidson’s Director of Sustainability Yancey Fouché said. “The project is a cornerstone of Davidson’s five-year climate action plan. The agreement, in combination with a new on-site solar energy installation, will expand renewable energy solutions on and off campus.”

Davidson is partnering with Wake Forest University and Elon University, in North Carolina. They are joined by Dickinson College, Haverford College, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, Muhlenberg College and Swarthmore College, in Pennsylvania. 

Guided by Coho, an ERM Group Company, the institutions are working with NextEra Energy Resources, the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun, and a world leader in battery energy storage. The consortium is supporting the Sebree Solar II project through an agreement that entails purchasing energy for 20 years. The Sebree Solar II project is set to begin construction in early 2025 and commence commercial operation by the end of 2026. The solar site is projected to provide enough energy to annually power more than 24,000 homes when complete. 

The solar facility will be located near the town of Robards, Kentucky, near the Ohio River. The Sebree Solar II project will offer considerable environmental benefits as the project will generate up to 150 megawatts of clean, renewable energy. Over its 30-year lifespan, the solar site will contribute approximately $12 million in additional tax revenue to Henderson County, which can be used for roads, schools and other public services. 

The electricity generated by the Sebree Solar II project cannot be transmitted directly to the nine campuses because of distance. The schools, however, still will reap the benefits of investing in new additional renewable energy. Davidson will be paying for an amount of energy equal to 100% of the electricity used by its campus. In exchange, Davidson will receive renewable energy credits, which can be used to account for greenhouse gas emissions related to purchased electricity.

Those credits will reduce the college’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40%. The agreement offers Davidson educational benefits in addition to credits for clean energy. NextEra Energy Resources will provide access to data for classroom use, campus speaking engagements, site visits and student internships.

“We are pleased to work with Davidson and the other institutions to help them achieve their sustainability goals,” said Anthony Pedroni, vice president, renewable development and M&A, NextEra Energy Resources. “This solar energy project will generate homegrown energy and provide millions of dollars in additional tax revenue to Henderson County over the life of the project.”


  • April 22, 2024