Pennsylvania plans for more solar energy for government buildings

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The governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, has announced plans to purchase 50% of all electricity used by Pennsylvania’s government buildings from solar energy from seven new arrays to be built on farms across Pennsylvania’s six counties. The administration says the 191 MW deal is currently the largest commitment by any state government in the U.S. The arrays, an arrangement of solar panels, should begin producing power by January 2023. The power will be generated by seven arrays located on 1,800 to 2,000 acres of farmland in Columbia, Juniata, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, and York Counties where farmers have signed 30-year leases. The electricity generated from their land would be roughly enough to power 33,000 homes.

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The arrays will be built and owned by Lightsource BP, a global company with offices in Philadelphia. Under the deal, Pennsylvania has signed a 15-year agreement to purchase the power through Constellation, an Exelon company. State officials said the average it will pay for power under the agreement is about 5 cents per kW/h cheaper than the last 10-year average the state paid for traditional supply. Officials said the agreement, part of Wolf’s GreenGov initiative, has little up-front cost to taxpayers, and that the solar arrays will eventually generate tax revenue.

“Pennsylvania has been a national energy leader for more than 100 years,” Wolf said in a statement. “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.” Experts say the energy from the solar arrays will supply all the electricity for buildings across 16 state agencies, which is the equivalent of about half the electricity used by the state government. The transition to renewable energy sources is intended to lower carbon dioxide emissions statewide by 157,800 metric tons annually.