Solar Array Project at Susquehanna University

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP -- Susquehanna University is taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint with a solar panel array.

Susquehanna University has a 25-year agreement with WGL Energy Systems to develop the solar project. Work started in December and once finished, it's expected to supply 30 percent of the university's electricity.

Driving along Sassafras Street near Selinsgrove, the solar panels are hard to miss. They take up 14 acres of land owned by Susquehanna University.

According to Kathy Straub, a professor of earth and environmental science, this will be the largest university-sponsored solar array in Pennsylvania.

"I was overjoyed," Straub said. "I did not think this would ever happen here just because it's obviously such a huge project."

WGL Energy from Virginia is installing the solar panels. Starting this summer, Susquehanna University will buy the electricity from WGL Energy as part of an agreement to develop this project.

"We're going to own it and manage it over 25 years and the university is going to get the power as well as all the benefits they are hoping to achieve from clean power," said project manager Brad Smith.

Each of the panels produces 325 watts of electricity. When this project is all said and done, there will be more than 12,000 panels covering almost 15 acres.

Once finished, the solar array is expected to provide about 30 percent of the electricity on Susquehanna University's campus.

"One way to think about that is it will power all of our residence halls. Doesn't exactly work like that because electricity just flows where it flows, but if you do the math," Straub said.

"It's equivalent to taking, I think, almost a half a million cars off the road or I think ten million miles driven," said Smith.

Students are interested in the project, too.

"I think that's awesome, especially since we're such a small school. It's very, very progressive and a big deal," senior Grace Smith said

The solar array project near Selinsgrove is expected to start generating electricity by this summer.