Wolf launches solar project that will fuel half of state government

Written by on March 23, 2021

Wolf launches solar project that will fuel half of state government

By Rachel McDevitt / StateImpact Pennsylvania

March 23, 2021

This solar field in Lurgan Township, Franklin County provides power to Penn State. Panels are seen here on Nov. 24, 2020. Photo | Rachel McDevitt / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Wolf Administration says it is making the largest government commitment to solar energy in the country by agreeing to buy power from seven new solar projects in the state. 

it’s another attempt by the governor to address climate change without the legislature.

The new 15-year power purchase agreement will add 191 megawatts of solar energy in the state, nearly doubling how much solar energy is produced statewide now, the administration says. The power from solar fields in six counties will supply about half the state government’s electricity.

The governor’s office says the greenhouse gas emissions cut by the power switch is equal to taking 34,000 cars off the road.

Colin Smith, a solar analyst with the research firm Wood Mackenzie, says the move shows how cost-competitive solar has become. He says the state could use this as a case study.

“It will give them the ability to say, well hey, look how much money we expect to be saving with this system, we should do this for the rest of the state in order to leverage the low cost of renewables,” Smith says. 

The Republican-controlled legislature has yet to take action on climate change, and has pushed back on the Democratic governor’s plan to join a regional cap and trade program to limit emissions from power plants.

Project developer Lightsource BP plans to bring the arrays online in early 2023.

The projects are slated for sites in Columbia, Juniata, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and York counties.

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