Solar Projects at Penn State
Penn State Powered by the Sun – 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 provides 25% of Penn State’s state-wide electricity requirements. The project went into service October 2020 and is expected to provide savings 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. A Request for Information (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.
- Nittany 1: Nittany 1 (solarpark-online.com)
- Nittany 2: Nittany 2 (solarpark-online.com)
- Nittany 3: Nittany 3 (solarpark-online.com)
News articles about this project:
- Penn State: Powered by the sun | Penn State University (psu.edu)
- Penn State, Lightsource BP break ground on largest solar project in Pennsylvania | Penn State University (psu.edu)
- Penn State’s solar energy project digs deep for conservation | Penn State University (psu.edu)
- Penn State’s new solar array creates student research and intern opportunities | Penn State University (psu.edu)
- Penn State Mont Alto hosts campus forum on research and engagement opportunities | Penn State University (psu.edu)
Lightsource bp case study: https://www.lightsourcebp.com/us/projects/penn-state-powered-by-the-sun/
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.
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.