Two plug-in Toyota Priuses belonging to professors and a student's Nissan Leaf were already sipping electricity from Farmingdale State College's solar carport when the grandees arrived for a ribbon-cutting Monday morning.
The carport, built for $725,000 in grant money in a parking lot near Lupton Hall, can charge 20 plug-in vehicles at a time. It draws power from 390 overhead solar panels that produce about 100 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power 10 good-sized houses. Any excess feeds into the campus grid, with the potential to save thousands of dollars a month on the electric bill.
School officials say it is the only such facility on Long Island and for the next year, charging will be free for anyone with a campus parking decal; after that there will be a fee based on what the college pays for its own power. At current rates, said Kamal Shahrabi, dean of the School of Engineering Technology, that would come out to about $1.50 for a full four-hour charge. "These kinds of things have utility, and in the future they're going to be much more common," Hubert Keen, Farmingdale's president, said.
The carport, three wind turbines, an energy-efficient office in Lupton Hall and a "smart house" to run on solar power and hydrogen fuel cells, are part of the school's push to popularize green technologies.
Some of those technologies are developing rapidly, Shahrabi said, even if they are not yet widely popular. That $1.50 charge for instance, will only take a driver 75 miles in a Nissan Leaf, he said -- impractical for longer distances, because charging stations are relatively rare and even the fastest chargers take an hour.
"Can I charge it in 10 minutes and hit the road? Not yet. But almost," he said.