A 25-MW solar project that is helping advance energy and sustainability priorities for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has reached commercial operation. The project is one of two solar farms that SEPTA and Lightsource bp have partnered on, bringing their joint statewide operational solar assets to more than 42 MW — enough to meet about 20% of SEPTA’s electricity demand.
“SEPTA is proud to be an industry leader in utilizing new technologies that are reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing the quality of life for our customers and the communities we serve,” said Leslie S. Richards, SEPTA CEO and general manager. “One of the main goals of our strategic business plan, SEPTA Forward, is to enhance sustainability and expand our access to renewable energy sources. We have taken a major step forward with these solar farms, and we look forward to launching more innovative projects and partnerships.”
“In addition to lowering greenhouse gas emissions by generating electricity from Pennsylvania home-grown renewable energy sources, solar projects like these can help strengthen local rural economies across the Commonwealth. Our multiuse land strategies further multiply the benefits of these projects,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of the Americas at Lightsource bp.
Lightsource bp and project investors fully funded the project, an estimated $25 million of investment into new energy infrastructure for Pennsylvania. In addition to providing cost-competitive, locally generated renewable energy that’s being delivered into the electric grid, Elk Hill Solar 1 created 100 jobs during the construction of the facility.
Additionally, a long-term biodiversity and land management action plan is underway for Elk Hill Solar 1 to maximize local sustainability benefits through habitat creation and co-located agriculture to farm the land while also harnessing solar energy. The land under and around the solar panels will be planted with groundcover that is both grazing and pollinator friendly, including native wildflowers and clover species. Lightsource bp is also working with a local farmer on a plan to graze sheep to manage the vegetation under and around the solar panel. Managed grazing also works to improve soil health and foster healthy ecosystems.