The University of Pennsylvania signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) this week to receive energy from two new facilities capable of generating 220 megawatts annually — the largest solar project in the state.
Under the terms of the 25-year PPA with Community Energy, Penn will purchase enough electricity from the solar sites to cover about 75% of the demand from its academic campus and the University of Pennsylvania Health System. The solar electricity rate is competitive with conventional electricity prices, according to Penn.
Previously, the university signed a 10-year renewable energy contract with Community Energy in 2006 for power from the Bear Creek Wind Farm in northeastern Pennsylvania, which was one of the first in the country to use 2-MW turbines. Since then, continued renewable energy procurement has kept the University of Pennsylvania at the top of the EPA Green Power Partnership list.
“Over the past few years, the university reduced peak electric demand by 18% and its overall demand by over 5% compared with its 2007 baseline, despite a growth in campus area of over 2%,” the EPA noted in the Top 30 College and University list from January.
The new agreement should help the university reach its commitment to become a 100% carbon-neutral campus by 2042. Beginning in 2023, the PPA is expected to reduce carbon emissions from Penn’s academic campus by 45% from 2009 levels, and allow the university to meet the Paris Accord goal seven years ahead of schedule.
“Penn intends to retire all Pennsylvania Alternative Energy Credits produced by the project, meaning that the solar power generated will be above and beyond Pennsylvania Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard requirements, and will be key to meeting the campus’ carbon reduction goals,” the university said.
Construction on the solar project has been planned for the fall of 2021, with electricity delivery set to begin in 2023.