Rider has partnered with PSE&G and Alteris Renewables (now Real Goods Solar) to install a 3.2 acre, 0.74 megawatt solar field at the back of the campus just beyond the athletic fields. All electricity generated since the field began operation in the fall of 2011 goes into the PSE&G grid as part of the Solar For All program; PSE&G owns the 2,640 solar panels and provides Rider with a lease payment for the land. The solar field provides electricity to about 100 PSE&G user homes and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 34,580,526 pounds over a 25 year period; that equals more than 8,600 SUVs worth of carbon dioxide.
A Rider alum, Andy Kern, participated in the project that expands solar facilities in the state and to connects his alma mater to this important initiative. Not only do the panels provide energy for the local community, it provides a tangible example for Rider Sustainability Studies students to study the impacts solar can have, economically and environmentally.
There are numerous environmental ramifications for this installation. Solar energy replaces other forms of energy like gas or coal so it reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The area where the field is located was not disrupted for the placement of the panels. No trees were taken down or removed, no wildlife was disturbed, and no wetlands were affected in any way. The grass underneath the panels is also shade resistant so the grass can still thrive despite the panels absorbing much of the sunlight. Clearly, the solar field among Rider’s many other sustainable sites, benefits people, planet, and profit which are all the major requirements that need to be met when being sustainable.