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University of Pennsylvania signs PPA for 220-MW solar facilities

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The University of Pennsylvania (Penn) has signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with solar developer Community Energy for what it says will be the largest solar power project in the state, making the University closer to its goal of being 100% carbon neutral by 2042.

The PPA will result in the construction of two new solar energy facilities, in central Pennsylvania, that combined will have a capacity of 220 MW. Penn will purchase all electricity produced at the sites, which will be equal to 75% of the total electricity of the campus and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

The University intends to retire all Pennsylvania Alternative Energy Credits produced by the project, meaning the power generated will be beyond Pennsylvania Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard requirements, being a key to meeting carbon reduction. The project would not be built without this commitment.

“This agreement not only allows the University of Pennsylvania to continue to demonstrate strong leadership on climate action, but it also provides a competitive price on electricity,” said Anne Papageorge, vice president of the University’s Division of Facilities & Real Estate Services. “The University first laid out its roadmap to environmental sustainability in 2009, and we’ve accomplished much. This PPA is our most recent example of Penn’s commitment to meeting our climate goals.”

Jay Carlis, executive vice president of Community Energy added, “This voluntary power purchase agreement with the University of Pennsylvania is the gold standard for renewable energy procurement. This long-term commitment today is needed to make the development of this project a reality for commercial operation towards the end of 2022.”

The PPA aims to supplement the University’s energy conservation and sustainability efforts and reduce the campus’ carbon emissions by 45% from 2009 levels by 2023.

The University of Pennsylvania was an early adopter of renewable energy purchases, with a 10-year contract signed with Community Energy in 2006 for the Bear Creek Wind Farm. That contract allowed the University to become a leader atop the EPA Green Power Partnership list of college and university renewable energy purchasers.

Construction on the new project is expected to begin in late 2021, with electricity being delivered in the beginning of 2023.