A crane hoists pallets of solar panels to the roof of Hartzler Library at Eastern Mennonite University as work moves forward on the largest solar project in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Eastern Mennonite University is adding a solar roof to its library in what will become the largest solar project in Virginia.

More than 300 photovoltaic panels will cover some 10,000 square feet on the library roof. Southern Energy Management of Morrisville, N.C., is handling the installation with a projected completion date of mid-November, 2010.

The roof complex will generate 104.3 kilowatts of electricity — or enough to provide electricity for nine homes for a year. The project is a partnership of Staunton, Va.-based Secure Futures LLC, a solar energy developer. EMU has entered a 20-year agreement to purchase solar-generated electricity from Secure Futures. It will cost no more than it does for the university to purchase electric from the Harrisonburg Electric Commission.

Under the agreement, EMU has paid for 10 years of electricity to help Secure Futures reduce financing for the project.

“This solar project represents good stewardship of the university’s financial resources and the Earth’s natural resources,“ EMU President Loren Swartzendruber said. “It will also offer a highly visible case study for our students and our community about the pragmatic benefits of clean renewable energy.“

EMU plans to add even more solar power to its campus. Secure Futures will seek investors to install a 300-megawatt solar roof on the university’s commons.