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Penn State To Save $14 Million Through Solar Energy Project

Passing through the small towns and open roads of Franklin County in southern Pennsylvania, it’s not uncommon to see sprawling fields of green, silos, and small farms.

But soon, passersby may catch a glimpse of a different agricultural tool when acres of solar panels are installed in the area.

Penn State and Lightsource BP, a London-based company focused on bringing solar power collection to rural areas, are collaborating to bring more than 150,000 solar panels to about 500 acres of land in three different Franklin County locations.

Construction on the project officially began last Friday, when Governor Tom Wolfe joined University President Eric Barron and Lightsource executives at a groundbreaking ceremony in Franklin County.

Lightsource will build and maintain the panels and sell the energy they produce to Penn State. The panels will provide 25% of the university’s electrical power across its 22 campuses.

“We are proud to partner with Lightsource BP on a project that will help the University meet our ambitious goal of lowering greenhouse gas emissions while also saving on our utility costs,” Barron said in a release.

The panels will be installed on space leased from local landowners, and are expected to save the university $14 million over 25 years. Plus, they’ll reduce the university’s greenhouse gas emissions by 57,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

The solar sites will reportedly provide students with a lab-like environment to assist and learn about alternative energy sources. Construction is expected to be completed in July 2020.

Solar farming is a growing trend in Pennsylvania. Though the Penn State project is currently one of the largest of its kind in the state, larger solar facilities are expected to appear in the future. Farmers leasing the land will reportedly earn as much, if not more, income from the solar project as they would farming other crops, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“This large-scale solar project located in PA provides many benefits for Penn State, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the local community,” said Rob Cooper, senior director of energy and engineering in Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant. “It provides immediate utility cost savings and long-term budget certainty and will lower Penn State’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

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About the Author

Jim Davidson

Jim is a junior English and history major and the features editor for Onward State. He, like most of the Penn State undergraduate population, is from 'just outside Philadelphia,' and grew up in Spring City, Pennsylvania. He covers a variety of Penn State topics, but spends nine months of every year waiting for the start of soccer season. You can reach him via email at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @messijim.

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