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Hungry sheep back to work at Susquehanna University's solar array

As Newswatch 16's Nikki Krize explains, the sheep are in charge of maintaining the greenery around the school's solar facility.

SELINSGROVE, Pa. — Susquehanna University is home to one of the largest solar arrays in this part of the state. The 12,000 panels sit on 14 acres—the array powers about 30 percent of the university's electricity.

But with all this solar comes a lot of grass. Mowing comes with its own set of challenges.

"Duck under the solar panels and miss the beams. From a budgeting standpoint, if someone is paying for each mowing event, how many times are you going to mow?" said Caroline Owens from Owens Farm near Sunbury.

"We're at a place where we want people to learn and experience things, so learning how you can graze under the solar panels rather than get machinery in here is really great," said Matt Wilson, Susquehanna University director of Susquehanna's Freshwater Research Institute.

Since 2019 Susquehanna university has worked with Owens Farm. Caroline Owens brings around 40 sheep at the beginning of April. They eat the vegetation, which keeps it from shadowing the solar array, so it keeps producing electricity.

"They're fertilizing with their manure and urine. But also their hooves treading the soil, their saliva and the motion of them tugging, all of this stimulates the biological activity of the soil."

Owens brings the same sheep every year.

"They know the drill. They know the boundaries. They know when to move. They know how it's done."

Officials say it's a win-win situation.

"Everybody loves the sheep; they're cute, but they are also great for demonstrating what you can do at a solar array," Wilson said.

The sheep will be at the solar array through November.

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