December 18, 2017
Facility Will Supply 30 Percent of University's Electricity Needs
Susquehanna University has entered into an agreement with WGL Energy Systems (WGL Energy), a WGL company (NYSE: WGL), to develop a 3.9 MW DC (3 AC MW) ground-mounted solar array that will supply 30 percent of the university's electricity needs.
Construction has already begun on the 12,000-panel, 14-acre project, located at the Center for Environmental Education and Research (CEER) along the western border of campus on Sassafras Street. It is the largest university-sponsored solar array in Pennsylvania. The facility is expected to be completed by summer of 2018.
"WGL Energy is proud of our presence throughout Pennsylvania and to extend our offering of diverse and innovative energy solutions—it's exciting to partner with the university and develop our first solar project in Pennsylvania," said Sanjiv Mahan, president, WGL Energy Systems. "We look forward to expanding our business to provide more energy answers in the Commonwealth."
"Susquehanna University is proud to support the development of one of the largest solar projects in Pennsylvania," said Jonathan D. Green, president, Susquehanna University. "This is a major step forward in the university's commitment to implementing earth-friendly initiatives that are at the heart of responsible living in our interdependent world."
The solar array is estimated to produce more than 5,300 megawatt hours (MWh) per year of electricity, enough to power all of the campus' residence halls and avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking approximately 787 cars off the road each year.
Susquehanna will purchase that electricity from WGL Energy. WGL Energy Systems, which has more than 200 MW of distributed generation projects installed or under contract across 20 states and the District of Columbia, will own and operate the facility under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA). SGC Power, a Maryland-based company, is serving as co-developer on the project and has provided design and construction services.
Construction of the solar array is being documented through a live video feed. Watch it here.
This is the latest initiative illustrating Susquehanna's commitment to environmental responsibility. The university will purchase national renewable energy certificates (wind) for all of its grid-supplied electricity, which promotes renewable power generation.
In 2014, the campus coal plant was shut down and replaced with high-efficiency natural gas heating, boosting energy efficiency by more than 40 percent. The campus now uses 21 percent less energy to heat its buildings, which results in a 45 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
Susquehanna's Center for Environmental Education and Research (CEER) is home to the Freshwater Research Initiative laboratory, a state-of-the-art facility where faculty and students work collaboratively with a network of nonprofit groups, government agencies and other academic institutions to monitor the ecological health of the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay watersheds.
Also at the CEER is the university's campus garden, which continues to grow and provide healthy food for the Selinsgrove Senior Center and other local recipients. Two nearby beehives, maintained by the Susquehanna Beekeepers Club, support pollination and the local honeybee population.
The university has four buildings that are LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) by the U.S. Green Building Council: two residence halls, the Natural Sciences Center and the new Admission House.
Over the past decade, the university has made significant investments in adding building automation controls across campus. Electronic sensors automatically adjust lighting, heating, air conditioning and airflow, keeping buildings comfortable for occupants while maximizing energy efficiency.
"This is another example of the university putting what we teach into action," Green said. "We can best help our students to become effective citizens of the world by being one as an institution."