In a move that will bring the University “significantly closer” to its goal of achieving a carbon-neutral campus by 2042 [“Gazetteer,” Jan|Feb 2020], Penn has agreed to purchase all the electricity produced by two new solar energy facilities scheduled to begin construction next year by Community Energy, a renewable energy company based in Radnor, Pennsylvania.
Expected to be Pennsylvania’s largest solar power project at 220 megawatts capacity, the two facilities will generate a combined 450,000 MWh of electricity per year—about 75 percent of what’s required for the academic campus and Health System. The University will pay Community Energy a rate competitive with prices for conventional generation, and the term of the agreement is 25 years.
The University’s commitment to renewable energy goes back to 2006, with a 10-year agreement with the company for wind power. According to a May press release, the new project ranks at the top of solar and wind initiatives by Ivy League institutions designed to shrink their carbon footprints. When they begin operation in 2023, the power plants will reduce campus carbon emissions by 45 percent compared to levels in 2009, when the first iteration of Penn’s Climate Action Plan was issued [“Red and Blue Makes Green,” Nov|Dec 2009], and meet the 2030 emissions reduction goal set by the Paris Climate Accord seven years ahead of schedule.