A $1.7 million array of solar panels is now online at Furman University and is supplying electrical power to the Greenville, S.C., campus.

The university says in a news release it has installed 2,994 solar panels on six acres of land near the main campus entrance. Officials say it is the largest solar installation on a college campus in South Carolina.

The solar power generated will reduce campuswide electricity expenditures at Furman by up to 5 percent annually and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 percent.

The 743-kilowatt photovoltaic array is also set up for net metering, which means any excess power it generates can be sold back to Duke Energy, the region's electric utility. Campus administrators estimate the reduced energy costs will bring a return on Furman’s investment in eight years.

“Furman takes its environmental responsibilities seriously, and we’re proud to be a leader in our sustainability programs and renewable energy systems,” says Furman President Elizabeth Davis. “In addition to increasing the university’s solar power production and reducing our energy costs, the new solar facility will serve as a laboratory for Furman students pursuing careers in sustainability.”

Davis says the new solar installation will help Furman reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2026.

Duke Energy has provided Furman with a $997,000 solar rebate to help defray the cost of the panels.