MARION — Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) is partnering with Carmel-based SunFundED to develop, finance, and operate solar energy systems on four of its campuses across the state.
SunFundED, which focuses solely on partnering with education entities, created and provides “Solar-as-a-Service.” IWU will save year one with no debt incurred, incorporate a sustainable approach to power as part of the university’s green initiatives, and more robustly prepare students for green energy/STEM careers. Sun FundED develops, finances, and operates the system for 25 years, thus heavily reducing the work, costs, headaches, and much of the risk out of the equation for their school clients.
“IWU’s interest in solar technology is multi-faceted. We believe the future will rely more on alternative energy sources. Renewable energy, specifically solar, is the best path forward for our university to contribute regionally and be a responsible community leader,” said John Jones, vice president of operations for IWU-Marion. “It will also assist in controlling the cost of education so we can stay competitive for the students we serve.”
“Solar-as-a-service” represents a fixed fee structure that stabilizes and makes budgeting more predictable for schools while creating a long-term hedge against cost plus inflation. It also carries an upfront cost to the school of only $1 while yielding significant savings in the first year.
“With our four campuses adopting the Solar-as-a-Service model, we are forecasted to save more than $30 million during our service agreement with Sun FundED,” said Nancy Schoonmaker, executive vice president, and chief financial officer for Indiana Wesleyan University. “Solar is a powerful tool to mitigate the rising energy costs for our facilities; the timing couldn’t be better for this partnership and for IWU to go solar.”
IWU will be bringing solar online in 2022 in the largest deployment of solar for one educational organization in the state of Indiana; its Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Merrillville, and main campus in Marion will focus on this new initiative.
Some interesting points to consider: every ounce of oil, every lump of coal, and every cubic foot of natural gas could be left in the ground if only we could capture one hour’s worth of solar energy each year, that’s the scale of the opportunity – Solar panel costs have fallen 99% since 1977 – Solar energy is cheaper than fossil fuels – If 20% of the public schools adopted “Solar-as-a-Service” in Indiana, over the lifetime of the agreement, taxpayers would save over $1 billion.
“We feel blessed to be partnering with Indiana Wesleyan University,” said Kelly Hipskind, co-founder of Sun FundED. “Everything about this organization is first-class from their leadership and board to every employee we have interacted with. They are collaborative, industrious, caring, and innovative, which is a unique and powerful combination in today’s education landscape. We are thrilled to make a financial commitment of $15-$20 million across all four campuses and watch the ROI compound for generations to come at IWU and in Indiana.”