Penn State has been awarded a 2020 Sustainability Innovation Award by APPA, the professional association of educational facilities, for its commitment to solar energy. Although still in its infancy, the 70-megawatt solar energy partnership between Penn State and Lightsource bp, which will provide 25% of the University’s statewide electrical needs, is drawing national attention.
In January 2019, the University signed a 25-year agreement with Lightsource bp to construct and purchase Pennsylvania-based solar energy. A groundbreaking ceremony followed in September 2019, and by October 2020, with the solar array constructed and ready for production, a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to kick off the University’s purchasing of the renewable energy source. In total, the 500-acre solar energy project, located on three sites in Franklin County, will supply a quarter of the University’s statewide electricity needs and lower the University’s greenhouse gas emissions by 57,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, the equivalent of removing 12,100 fuel-burning cars from the road. Through the power-purchasing agreement, Penn State will save an estimated $14 million over the course of the 25-year agreement.
“This award further solidifies Penn State’s commitment to reduce our carbon emissions and support our local economy by purchasing renewable, Pennsylvania-produced energy,” said Bill Sitzabee, Penn State’s vice president of facilities management and planning and chief facilities officer. “Not only does the solar array help us achieve our energy goals, but it also provides high-quality research opportunities, stewards our environment, and supports rural Pennsylvania communities.”