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December 18, 2018

Philadelphia signs major commitment to new solar energy facility

Energy Climate Change
12042018_philly_city_hall_TC Thom Carroll, File/PhillyVoice

Philadelphia City Hall.

Philadelphia's pledge to run on 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 took a massive step forward on Tuesday afternoon.

Mayor Jim Kenney has signed legislation that will enter the city into a power purchase agreement with a renewable energy developer to construct the state's largest solar facility in Adams County.

Philadelphia will purchase all electricity produced at the 70-Megawatt site — about 22 percent of the city government's annual needs — for the next 20 years at a fixed rate competitive with conventional electricity prices, officials revealed.

“This project not only helps Philadelphia demonstrate leadership on climate action, but it also makes good economic sense and helps to boost regional job growth in the renewable energy sector,” Mayor Kenney said in a statement.

The new facility will be constructed on a 700-acre site in Straban Township, just outside historic Gettysburg. Through the Philadelphia Energy Authority, the city will enter an agreement with Adams Solar LLC, a subsidiary of Radnor-based Community Energy, Inc.

“This solar power commitment demonstrates impressive and much needed municipal leadership on climate change in Pennsylvania,” said Brent Alderfer, co-founder and CEO of Community Energy. “As climate change becomes more costly, Philadelphia and other leading municipalities are seeking out reliable, long-term partnerships to decarbonize and head off irreversible climate damage.”

The deal represents one the largest agreements between an American city and a renewable energy provider. Pennsylvania's largest solar array currently stands at about 12 megawatts, by comparison.

Philadelphia's commitment to clean energy is outlined in the city's Municipal Energy Master Plan, which provides a roadmap for the city to transition to renewable energy across its facilities. The plan aims to mitigate climate change, reduce energy use and costs, create jobs and improve air quality.

The project in Adams County is expected to break ground in 2019 and begin delivering electricity in the fall of 2020.