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Franklin County — (Aug. 12, 2019) — Penn State University kicks off the state’s biggest solar energy project here next month.

A Sept. 6 groundbreaking gets the project started at a site on Mowersville Road near Newburg. The site is one of three locations in Franklin County for installation of the solar panels.

The project will provide 25% of the University’s statewide electric generation requirements over the next 25 years.

Educational Experiences, Internships at PSUMA

Because the project is located near Penn State Mont Alto, the local campus can offer unique educational experiences and internships.

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By giving students internships that explore the whole process of permitting, constructing, and installing utility solar projects, Penn State is equipping them to become the next generation of leaders in this critical energy field.

In addition, the Penn State Sustainability Institute plans educational opportunities to area students in alternative energy, environmental science, and sustainability.

Penn State educates 100,000 students on 24 campuses across Pennsylvania.

The solar array will become a living lab for students to explore and develop practical real-world experience in designing solar projects.

Additionally, Lightsource BP will host Penn State student interns to work on research and activities related to the solar facilities.

Jeffrey Brownson, associate professor of energy and mineral engineering and a member of the Project Steering Committee, said one goal is to make solar personal. 

“We want to show communities, faculty, staff and students that this project is the beginning of a lifetime discussion,” Brownson said. “We want to show people what the future looks like, because they are all a part of it.”

Goal: 35% Greenhouse Reduction by 2020

Last February Penn State and Lightsource BP announced they had signed a 25-year contract for clean, renewable electricity to power the university.

The agreement is for 70 megawatts of large-scale offsite solar. The project will provide 25% of Penn State’s state-wide electricity requirements.

Once completed, the university will achieve its goal of a 35% greenhouse gas reduction by 2020. Penn State says savings of millions of dollars on electricity bills will also provide long-term budget certainty.

The project also supports Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS). AEPS mandates a certain percentage of electricity generated by solar photovoltaics, helping to diversify the Commonwealth’s energy portfolio and increase security with locally generated power.

  • 70MWᴅᴄ/53.5MWᴀᴄ capacity
  • 57,000metric tons of CO2 saved per year
  • 12,102fuel-burning cars taken off-road (equivalent)

The project’s 150,000-plus solar panels installed across three locations will encompass about 500 acres of land in Franklin County.

The panels outside of Chambersburg near Penn State’s Mont Alto campus will be one of the largest solar projects in the state.

Financed, built, maintained and operated by Lightsource BP. Construction plans call for completion by summer 2020.

  • 25%of Penn State’s annual power demand supplied
  • 250local jobs created

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