Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) signed a contract with Sun FundED to bring sustainable solar technology and education to its campuses.

IWU is launching the “solar-as-a-service” project that will work through Sun FundED for 25 years. SunFundED will develop, finance and operate the system during the project’s initial lifespan which reduces the work, costs and risk for IWU.

“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 vice president of operations for IWU-Marion John Jones. “It will also assist in controlling the cost of education so we can stay competitive for the students we serve.”

The project boasts numerous benefits for IWU financially and educationally. “Solar-as-a-service” will provide more cost-efficient energy for the campuses and learning opportunities about sustainable energy technology and systems.

“Bringing solar technology to the IWU campus highlights and demonstrates to our community the importance of sustainable energy solutions to address current and future challenges,” said vice president for external affairs Tod Dalberg. “The immediate impact will be to lower the cost of energy on our campuses.”

As of Monday, IWU does not have plans to specifically implement new coursework or concentrations with a focus on solar technology. However, IWU will continue to explore the potential of adding new majors or coursework in the future if it is determined that there is a marketplace for solar technology education.

The partnership with Sun FundED took two years to develop. Sun FundED began the conversation with IWU about how solar deployment may be utilized on its campuses in 2019. Since the initial conversation, IWU and Sun FundED have conducted months of meetings, research and due diligence to find a path that mutually benefits both organizations.

Sun FundED strives to introduce sustainable energy to educational institutions around the state of Indiana and beyond. IWU seems to benefit from the partnership in numerous ways and will save year one with no debt incurred, which will be funneled back into clearing budget strain.

“This partnership impacts IWU by lowering the cost of energy to focus financial resources elsewhere as needed,” said Dalberg. “It will relieve some budget pressure that our organization has been experiencing.”

Future projects that may benefit from the savings acquired through the project have not yet been determined by IWU. However, the financial savings will be returned to IWU’s budget and will be used for emerging operational and other projects as the university administration best sees fit.

IWU claimed that the project will positively impact both IWU and the community of Marion as other communities will be able to see that Marion thrives on innovation.

“IWU is proud to launch this partnership with SunFundED and is also pleased to bring this scale’s innovation technology to the Marion community,” said Dalberg. “We are a community that looks to the future with optimism knowing energy sustainability will be a crucial part of thriving for any community in the future.”

“Solar-as-a-service” will be implemented at four IWU campuses including Marion, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Merrillville in the near future.

Currently, IWU is not planning to expand the project to other campuses, but it will continue to evaluate opportunities presented with the partnership and its goals.
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