Pennsylvania’s history of energy leadership is entering a new chapter, with the announcement of a large-scale solar development that will provide 50 percent of the state government’s energy needs. As the largest solar commitment by any state government in the country, the seven new solar arrays will generate a total of 191 megawatts for use in government buildings, and they are slated to generate power in less than 2 years. As part of the Governor’s Pennsylvania PULSE (Project to Utilize Light and Solar Energy), this latest announcement will help the State Government surpass its goal of providing 40 percent of Pennsylvania’s power from clean energy sources and proves Pennsylvania will be an energy innovator for the years to come.
“Pennsylvania has been a national energy leader for more than one hundred years. As we continue to diversify our grid with clean renewable sources of energy, we want to maintain Pennsylvania’s leadership position and bring the associated economic, health, and environmental benefits to all Pennsylvanians,” Governor Tom Wolf stated. The seven solar arrays will cover roughly 2,000 acres of land across six separate counties, and all of the locations were chosen in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy to ensure that the locations wouldn’t impact local biodiversity, conservation, or wildlife. The land will be leased from the locals by Lightsource BP creating a stable, high-paying revenue stream for Pennsylvania’s family farmers. Lightsource BP will also fund, construct, and maintain the solar arrays which are expected to create 400 clean energy jobs for central Pennsylvanians as well as increased tax revenues. Between 2017 and 2019 renewable energy installations created over 7,800 jobs in Pennsylvania, growing at a rate four times higher than the state average.
Each year, the solar project will capture 361,000 megawatt-hours per year and the energy will provide 16 state agencies with 100 percent clean power across 434 accounts. This accounts for roughly 50 percent of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s government energy consumption according to data from Pennsylvania State Facilities Engineering Institute. Through a landmark agreement, Pennsylvania State Facilities Engineering Institute helped broker a 15-year fixed-rate contract with Constellation, a Pennsylvania-based Public Utility Commission-licensed energy supplier. The fixed rate is historically low and will guarantee greater budget stability over the price fluctuations of the traditional power grid. General Services Secretary, Curt Topper, shared in the press release, “We’re excited to have this new model in place as we work toward more clean energy use in the future.”
Over 85 percent of Pennsylvania’s greenhouse gas emissions come from energy production and use, and the State Government’s solar arrays will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the region by 157,800 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. Pennsylvania is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050, and the State Government is demonstrating the effectiveness of utility-scale solar. In addition, the state is transitioning its fleet of vehicles to electric vehicles and developing strategies to further reduce its impact on the environment. As government agencies look to lower operating costs, create employment opportunities, and drive economic growth, the Keystone State is certainly proving that solar energy is a keystone of the future.