70 MW Solar PPA - In 2019, Penn State entered into a 25 year Solar PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) with Lightsource BP. This 70 MW project is a utility-scale ground mounted solar array, using over 150,000 solar panels sited on roughly 500 acres across 3 locations in Franklin County near Penn State's Mont Alto campus. It will provide 25% of Penn State's state-wide electricity requirements. The project is expected to be in service in July 2020 and provides cost savings in year 1 of $272,000 and $14M over the 25 year term of the PPA with a 0% escalator.
As the Office of Physical Plant (OPP) was identifying additional strategies to meet the University's 2020 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goal, is was determined that a large renewable power purchase may be financially viable for the University. An RFI was issued to further investigate the viability of a utility-scale renewable power purchase agreement as well as provide additional information including: project schedules, project sizing to capture economies of scale, solar vs. wind, project options in PA vs. other states, land use and opportunities for use of the site for academic and research activities.
With positive feedback from the RFI effort, Office of Physical Plant invited subject matter experts from across the University to join a Request for Proposal Steering Committee. The Committee included staff from Purchasing, Corporate Controller, Risk Management, Office of General Council, Strategic Communications, Applied Research Lab, Sustainability Institute, faculty from the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, OPP undergraduate energy interns and third party consultant, PRX Energy. This Committee helped set priorities and identify evaluation criteria, reviewed RFP responses, interviewed the top developers and made the final selection. Important evaluation criteria included: cost at or below break even with fossil-fuel based grid electricity, projects in PA preferred, size and schedule of project to meet GHG emissions reduction goals and a strong project partner that planned on retaining ownership in the project, had appreciation for the value of community engagement, ecosystem benefits and would provide opportunities to use the site as a living lab for students and faculty.
2 MW Solar PPA - Orchard Road Solar - Penn State entered into a 25 year PPA with the Alternative Energy Development Group (AEDG) for a 2MW onsite solar array located at the University Park campus on Orchard Rd. This onsite project provides 1% of University Park's campus electricity needs. The site began operation in April 2019.
Hydroelectric PPA - In 2013, Penn State entered into a 10-year power purchase agreement with Mahoning Creek Hydroelectric Company. This 6 MW hydroelectric generating plant is located at the existing USACE dam on Mahoning Creek in PA. Penn State purchases all of the net electric output from the facility.
Electric Vehicle Charging - In 2015, Penn State installed a solar array outside the main Office of Physical Plant facility to provide power to charge its 100% electric vehicles.
Class Gift - Penn State's Class of 2015's gift was a solar panel array powering a bus stop near Beaver Stadium.
MorningStar Solar Home - Built in 2007 and located at the Sustainability Experience Center, MorningStar is a 100% renewable energy powered home.
Ground Source - A few new buildings utilize ground-source heat pumps. These systems are considered for new buildings on the perimeter of the University Park campus that do not have access to the central steam system and new buildings at Commonwealth Campuses.