New Solar Power Array for PennFuture

Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture) just flipped the switch on their new 3.84 kW rooftop photovoltaic (PV) array in order to celebrate the arrival of summer and their continued efforts to promote renewable energy in Pennsylvania.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – June 23, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] “We can’t think of a better way to celebrate summer than to launch our solar power plant,” said John Hanger, president and CEO of PennFuture. “And just like summer’s cookouts and baseball, solar power is truly all-American. It frees us from foreign oil and makes our energy markets independent. Even on cloudy days, we can make electricity totally pollution-free, and help reduce the smog and soot that the old outdated power plants cause, protecting the health of the one million Pennsylvanians with respiratory problems.” PennFuture addresses and consults on a number of state-wide sustainability issues including air pollution. The organization tackles the issues surrounding conventional fossil fuel generation in the state by pursuing state-wide legislation which would create a fertile atmosphere for renewable energy to thrive. The organization hopes to see a 10 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to be gradually phased in over the next ten years. Currently renewable capacity in Pennsylvania stands at 1.9 percent but this includes all hydropower within the state. Since 1999 when the electricity market in Pennsylvania was deregulated, PennFuture has succeeded in winning over US$32 million of support for renewable electricity, according to Hanger. “Much of this success can be attributed to both the improving economics and more advanced technology. “Gas is at a price where it’s often cheaper to make electricity from wind,” Hanger said. “This is an important crossover point – days and even months go by where renewable energy is cheaper. That’s a sea change.” The detrimental health effects of conventional fossil fuels have much to do with increasing demand for renewable energy said Hanger and he cited mercury levels as one such concern. One of every 12 women in Pennsylvania has mercury levels above what the state’s Environmental Protection Agency deems acceptable. Coincidentally, coal-burning fossil fuel plants are the largest source for this excess mercury in the environment, said Hanger. “People are starting to understand how their energy choices affect their lives,” Hanger said. “They understand the government hasn’t always protected their health – and now they’re acting in self defense.” Hanger and his staff were joined at the solar array launch by John Holtz of Green Mountain Energy Company (GMEC) which contributed to the project by purchasing the solar electric output and deducting that amount as a credit from PennFuture’s electric bill. Homeowners and businesses can also benefit from similar arrangements. “Solar power users also benefit financially, by selling excess power back to the power companies for use by other customers,” Hanger said. “This cutting-edge technology is good for our economy, the environment and for our energy security – in more ways than one, our solar panels are really powerful.” PennFuture’s 3.84 kW installation, located at the organization’s headquarters across from the state Capitol in Harrisburg, includes 32 AstroPower 120-watt modules and two Sunny Boy 1800 string inverters that should generate approximately 3,474 kWh of electricity per year. TRC Alternative Energy Group installed the unit which is connected to the PPL electric distribution grid. The Sustainable Energy Fund of Central Eastern Pennsylvania and the TRF Sustainable Development Fund provided financial support for the project which totaled US$26,000 for installation. Even before the addition of the solar power plant, electricity for PennFuture’s offices was more than 100 percent renewable. In Harrisburg, PennFuture purchases GMEC’s Nature’s Choice 100 precent renewable, Green-e certified electricity and also purchases 50,000 kWh of Green-e certified Pennsylvania wind energy from Community Energy which more than covers the amount of electricity used in PennFuture’s Pittsburgh and Philadelphia offices. By using clean renewable energy instead of traditional power for the past year, PennFuture has avoided as much pollution as not driving not 287,600 miles, taking 24.5 cars off road or planting 13,661 trees. For a complete slide show of PennFuture’s new solar array being installed visit their site at the link below. Jesse Broehl can be reached at jesse.broehl@solaraccess.com
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