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Work has begun on a 150,000-panel solar installation that will supply clean energy to Penn State.

Planned solar array will provide 25 percent of electricity needs for Penn State system

Installation near Chambersburg, Pa., will have more than 150,000 solar panels.

Penn State is developing 70 megawatts of large-scale, offsite solar energy installations with a goal of providing 25 percent of the university's statewide electricity requirements over 25 years.

The university says in a news release that Lightsource BP will build the ground-mounted solar array.

It will have more than 150,000 solar panels in three locations encompassing roughly 500 acres situated just outside Chambersburg, Pa., near Penn State’s Mont Alto campus.

“Among the many benefits of this significant investment in solar-based electric generation include cost savings, lower greenhouse-gas emissions in support of Penn State’s aggressive sustainability goals, economic development with job creation, and income for host communities through development of the Pennsylvania solar market,” says Rob Cooper, senior director of energy and engineering in Penn State's Office of Physical Plant.

The targeted completion date is July 2020.

Among the goals of the installation:

•Lowering greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 57,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year
•Reducing the university’s annual electric costs.
•Providing long-term budget certainty for a portion of the university’s electric generation requirements.

Since 2005, Penn State has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent. The university has invested in conservation through an Energy Savings Program and has increased system efficiency from a Combined Heat and Power installation of a combustion turbine and heat recovery system at the East Campus Steam Plant.

The university’s 2020 goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is 35 percent. It has made progress toward that goal by eliminating coal at the West Campus Steam Plant, but additional strategies are required. The solar array will enable Penn State to meet its emission reduction goal.


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