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UB to officially open Solar Strand to public

Since UB flipped the switch a year ago, the Solar Strand has generated more than 875,000 kilowatts of clean, renewable electricity. Photo: Douglas Levere


Published April 18, 2013

Solar power plants often are located behind fences, on rooftops or in hard-to-reach places.

UB’s Solar Strand, believed to be the nation’s most publicly accessible photovoltaic power station, is an exception. As the world observes Earth Day on Monday, UB and the Western New York Environmental Alliance will introduce the public to the one-of-a-kind facility with a 90-minute event highlighting how environmental initiatives are redefining our economy and improving our quality of life.

“The Solar Strand is one of the most unique renewable energy parks in the world,” says Ryan McPherson, UB’s chief sustainability officer. “We want to make sure that people in Western New York and beyond know they are welcome to visit it.

“Not only does it produce enough renewable energy to power hundreds of student apartments, it will serve as an outdoor classroom inspiring and educating students and our community for years to come,” he says.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will run from 5-6:30 p.m. at the Solar Strand on the North Campus.

Attendees are asked to register here. Parking is available in the Center for Tomorrow lot.

The event will include a series of short speeches from regional leaders who are working to create a more sustainable future in Western New York. Among them will be Samina Raja, UB associate professor of urban and regional planning; Jill Jedlick, executive director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper; Kenneth Shockley, UB associate professor of philosophy; Justin Booth, executive director of GObike Buffalo; and Aaron Bartley, executive director and co-founder of PUSH Buffalo.

The Western New York Environmental Alliance is an umbrella organization representing more than 100 environmental organizations and supporting groups in the region. Robert E. Knoer, an attorney who serves as the alliance’s chairman, said teaming with UB for the event was a natural fit.

“The alliance represents more than 100 groups focusing on environmental, social, political and other issues,” he says. “The event will be an opportunity for them to build on existing connections with UB and to tap into the human energy that the university’s students represent.”

The event also will include tours of the Solar Strand, music and an awards ceremony presented by Ecology and Environment Inc.

The opening of the Solar Strand to the Western New York community is one of 25 events being held on campus to celebrate Earth Day; most are sponsored and organized by students. Click here to view the entire calendar of events.

Designed by celebrated landscape artist Walter Hood, the Solar Strand is a ground-level, open-air power station that generates up to 750 kilowatts of power. It contains 3,200 solar panels laid out in the pattern of a DNA fingerprint.

Since UB flipped the switch a year ago, it has generated more than 875,000 kilowatts of clean, renewable electricity. That equates to nearly 71,000 gallons of gasoline saved or the abatement of 628 tons of carbon dioxide. For more information, visit UB’s sustainability website.

From helping investigate toxic chemicals in the Love Canal neighborhood of Niagara Falls in the 1970s to committing to be climate neutral by 2030, UB has a long history of environmental leadership. The Earth Day event is another example of the university’s commitment to educate, inspire and enable people both on and off campus to create a more sustainable world. For more information, visit the sustainability website.

Photos from the Solar Strand opening