April 01, 2018
Every spring, a waving rainbow of cornflowers, cosmos, black-eyed Susans and shasta daisies greets drivers entering Selinsgrove from the south. The wildflower field has even become a sought-after backdrop for prom photos.
Their beauty is unquestioned, but their gardener has remained happily anonymous—until now. Mike Coyne, co-chief operating officer and
vice president for finance and administration at Susquehanna, has never considered himself a gardener, though he has always enjoyed hard work—masonry and chopping wood.
Wildflowers kind of happened by accident. He’d been eyeing the southern entrance to town for some time, thinking that it needed something … pretty.
“I’d been thinking about the wildflower thing for a few years,” he said recently. “I had set aside some money from every paycheck, so one year I decided to take that money and do something.”
Coyne also planted a strip of wildflowers along the western border of campus—and plans to plant more throughout campus with the help of student volunteers.
His work is emblematic of the university’s commitment to incorporating sustainability into its values, curriculum and operations.
Solar Array to Power 30 Percent of Electricity
Perhaps most significantly, construction began in December on the largest university-sponsored solar array in Pennsylvania.
When completed this summer, the 3.9 MW DC (3 MW AC) ground-mounted solar array will supply 30 percent of the university’s electricity needs.
“We can best help our students to become effective citizens of the world by being one as an institution,” says University President Jonathan D. Green. “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 14,000-panel, 14-acre project—located at the Center for Environmental Education and Research (CEER) along the western border of campus on Sassafras Street—is a joint effort between Susquehanna and WGL Energy Systems (WGL Energy).
Its estimated production capacity is more than 5,300 megawatt hours (MWh) per year of electricity—enough to power all of the campus’ residence halls and reduce greenhouse gas emissions—by an amount equivalent to taking approximately 787 cars off the road each year.
It has faculty and students alike excited.
“This is such a cool and unique project, and I think it will really help us to stand out to prospective students, as well as help us to be more eco-friendly,” says Em Osback ’18, an environmental studies major and member of the campus sustainability committee.
Susquehanna will purchase electricity generated by the array from WGL Energy Systems, which will own and operate the facility under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA).
“The solar array, and our commitment to purchase 100 percent [national] green-certified power from the grid, means that all of the electricity we use will be in support of renewable energy,” says Christopher Bailey, director of facilities management. “I think this project demonstrates real courage and faith on the part of SU’s leadership that this is the right thing to do in support of future generations.”