Aqua Pennsylvania Gets Stimulus Funds for Solar Farm

Aqua Pennsylvania, Inc. managers were joined by elected officials and environmental leaders on Nov. 12 to celebrate the start of construction of a 1.1 megawatt photovoltaic solar farm at Aqua’s Ingram’s Mill Water Treatment Plant in East Bradford Township, which serves drinking water to the West Chester, Pa., area.

The renewable energy project will use high-efficiency panels to convert sunlight into useful power, thereby reducing the region’s power generation requirements. The $6 million project is being partially funded with a $1 million grant through the federal stimulus program, which is administered through the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority (PEDA). Once completed, the 4.5-acre farm will be among the second largest solar installations on the East Coast.

“We are very proud to employ cutting-edge green energy technology to support our ability to provide one of the world’s most valuable resources — drinking water,” said Aqua Chair and Chief Executive Officer Nicholas DeBenedictis. “Our business was created out of concern for the environment and public health, so it makes perfect sense to have a sustainable clean energy source to power our water treatment plant. This project will not only benefit the 25,000 West Chester area residents who Aqua serves, but a multitude of others who live in the area and will benefit from the environmentally friendly features of this facility.”

The 1.1 MW solar farm, to be constructed by the Conergy Group, will provide renewable energy where the energy is most needed. The solar farm will reduce Aqua’s grid-tied usage by 1.3 million kWh annually resulting in an economic benefit of $77,000 per year in energy savings. In addition, the project will alleviate congestion on the PJM grid, resulting in additional savings to consumers by reducing line losses and congestion charges.

The project will also include a research project, “Identifying and Assessing Native Ground Cover Species to Populate Areas Beneath and Around Large Scale Solar Photovoltaic Arrays.” Restoration ecologists and wildlife and plant biologists from Delaware and Chester County universities will study or conduct research to assess the most advantageous native plant species to populate areas beneath and around ground-mounted solar photovoltaic arrays to be built at the solar farm. The research will begin when the solar arrays and ground restoration are complete.

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