The 17.5-megawatt solar farm in Franklin County, Penn., was recently made operational, marking a step in Pennsylvania’s decarbonization efforts.

The project, Elk Hill Solar 2, developed under a power purchase agreement between the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and Lightsource bp, is helping advance energy and sustainability priorities for both SEPTA and the commonwealth. The solar farm was developed and is owned and operated by Lightsource bp.

The project is one of two solar farms that SEPTA and Lightsource bp announced on Earth Day in 2020. Elk Hill 2 will generate an estimated 27,377 MWh of clean and affordable solar energy, or nearly 10 percent of SEPTA’s 380,000 MWh per year electricity demand–the equivalent of providing energy to more than 2,500 U.S. homes annually.

“This project is a win-win, creating good-paying jobs for Pennsylvanians while locking in low prices with a clean energy source for SEPTA,” said SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon, Sr. “We’re excited to be a part of moving the commonwealth’s energy industry forward.”

Generation from a solar farm of this size and type would be expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 19,360 metric tons of CO2 annually, equivalent to offsetting the emissions of 4,180 fuel burning cars each year, says SEPTA. It also supports Pennsylvania’s goals to generate a percentage of clean electricity by solar photovoltaics, helping to diversify the state’s energy portfolio and increase security with locally generated power.

“Transit is inherently sustainable, and this is just another example of how solar investment benefits not just the environment, but the transit industry as a whole,” said SEPTA General Manager, Leslie S. Richards. “Supporting the development of local renewable energy is another way we can deepen our positive environmental impact and this premier project will start the charge in achieving our long-term and ambitious sustainability goals in this vital field, which will only become more important in the future.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with SEPTA, an organization committed to its sustainability goals, while supporting development of new solar energy sources within the state to create jobs in local communities during these challenging times,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of Lightsource bp in the Americas. “Working together, we’re helping advance transportation’s decarbonization while benefitting Pennsylvania’s environment as well as its economy.”

Local economic benefits

Lightsource bp and project investors fully funded the project, an estimated $18-million investment went into energy infrastructure for Pennsylvania. In addition to providing cost-competitive, locally generated renewable energy, Elk Hill Solar 2 created 100 jobs during the construction of the facility. Over 43,800 bifacial solar panels, which collect the sun’s energy from both sides of the panel, were installed on about 80 acres. The solar panels will follow the sun during the day to collect the optimal amount of sunlight.



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