The University of Pittsburgh wants to have a carbon-neutral campus by its 250th birthday in 2037. The first candle may have been lit last week.

Pitt and Lendlease, a global property and infrastructure company, announced a 20-year power purchase agreement for the 20-megawatt Gaucho Solar project. The solar installation is to be built on 70 acres in Findlay Township, Allegheny County, and Independence Township, Beaver County – adjacent to Duquesne Light Co.’s substation and not far from Pittsburgh International Airport.

The university will purchase all of the 33,000 megawatt-hours of energy that will be produced there in a year. The installation, pending approvals, is targeted to become operational by mid-2022 and is expected to be one of the largest solar projects in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Pitt, according to a news release, also said it plans to purchase hydropower from a plant to be built along the Allegheny River.

The university said electricity generation accounts for about half of its greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr. Aurora Sharrard, the university’s director of sustainability, said in a statement: “Solar power is not only clean energy, but it’s cost effective as well – and expected to help reduce the university’s utility costs long-term. At the same time, renewable power benefits the entire community by eliminating local pollutants from electricity generation that harm the region’s air quality.”

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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