A 12-acre solar farm that will power the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County’s New Stanton Wastewater Treatment Plant is complete.
The project, located in Hempfield between Interstate 70 and Hunker-Waltz Mill Road near New Stanton, consists of 10,950 double-sided panels that can catch light reflected from snow in the winter. The grid will produce more than 3 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year, which is enough to power 384 homes, according to a news release on the project.
“We hope to offset some of the energy demands of our largest wastewater treatment plant through this solar project,” said Michael F. Kukura, the authority’s resident manager. “While this green energy plant is beneficial to the environment, it will also make our plant more resilient to electrical supply issues and lock in electrical rates that will save the authority and its customers money.”
The farm, owned by Denver-based SolRiver, is located about 11⁄2 miles from the wastewater treatment plant. Under an agreement reached in 2019, the municipal authority is required to buy energy from the farm but will have the option to purchase the facility after six, 10 and 15 years for a value based on the amount of energy being generated at the time.
Plans for the farm first were discussed in 2019, which, at the time, called for power to be sent to a meter set up by West Penn Power and spread into the immediate area. A credit for the meter then will be applied to the wastewater plant.
The solar farm originally was scheduled to open this spring, but spokesman Matthew Junker said there was a delay in getting the site approved.
According to the news release, the Hempfield solar farm is the first SolRiver project to go live in the state. The firm is working to acquire other development opportunities in Pennsylvania in an effort to reach Gov. Tom Wolf’s 26% greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal by 2025.
At the Hempfield plant, the solar farm is expected to help the municipal authority avoid 3,515 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, which is equivalent to planting 52,732 trees.
“The Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County has been a remarkable partner in bringing this project to fruition,” Brandon Conard, partner at SolRiver, said in the release. “We’re thrilled to see the power produced from this facility cover nearly all on-site electricity demand for MAWC’s Hunker wastewater treatment facility.”
Another solar grid also is expected to go live in Hempfield this year.
A microgrid consisting of more than 3,200 solar panels is under construction at a Pennsylvania Turnpike maintenance facility. Located at 241 AKH Maintenance Lane along the Amos K. Hutchinson Bypass, the microgrid will consist of 3,224 panels that are 405 watts each, totaling 1.305 megawatts. It also includes a 1.35 megawatt natural gas generator.
Energy from the panels and generator will be used to power the maintenance facility as well as an under-construction trades building that will include shops for electricians, carpenters, plumbers and HVAC technicians. The building will include a conference room and office space.
Both the microgrid and trades building will go live at the end of November, said Turnpike spokeswoman Renee Vid Colborn.