Updated: Sep 13
Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday the largest solar commitment by any government in the U.S. announced to date.
In a release issued Monday, Wolf said that the major clean energy initiative will produce nearly 50 percent of state government’s electricity through seven new solar energy arrays totaling 191-megawatts to be built around the state.
As part of the governor’s GreenGov initiative, Pennsylvania PULSE (Project to Utilize Light and Solar Energy) will go into operation on Jan. 1, 2023.
“In issuing the GreenGov challenge, I charged state government with leading by example in demonstrating sustainable governance and lowering greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the risks of climate change in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said. “This included significantly reducing energy use and pursuing an ambitious goal of obtaining at least 40 percent of electricity from clean energy generated in state. I commend General Services for their GreenGov leadership in not only meeting this goal but exceeding it."
Solar arrays will be built in seven locations in six counties: Columbia, Juniata, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, and York. When completed, the total 191-megawatt project is expected to deliver 361,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year, supplying 100 percent of electricity for 434 accounts across 16 state agencies, or about half the electricity used by state government.
The solar project will create 400-plus jobs and begin lowering carbon dioxide emissions statewide by 157,800 metric tons each year – the equivalent of the emissions from nearly 27,000 homes or taking 34,000 cars off the roads.
“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is crucial to slowing climate change and protecting our health and safety, environment, and economy,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “With over 85 percent of Pennsylvania’s greenhouse gas emissions coming from energy production and use, pursuing clean energy and energy efficiency at the enterprise scale, as the state government solar procurement demonstrates, will make a big impact. At the same time, research shows the clean energy sector is a leading creator of quality jobs in Pennsylvania, bringing positive economic impacts as well.”
Governor Wolf’s Climate Change Executive Order in 2019 set a goal of lowering Pennsylvania’s greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050 compared with 2005 levels. It re-established the Green Government Council, co-chaired by the Departments of General Services, Environmental Protection, and Conservation and Natural Resources.
The GreenGov Council is charged with developing strategies to ensure that state government plays a lead role in greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Goals include obtaining at least 40 percent of electricity from in-state clean energy sources; reducing energy use at least 3 percent annually; replacing 25 percent of the state vehicle fleet with electric vehicles; and attaining energy high-performance standards in building construction, lease, or renovation. The Council recently released its second annual report, outlining progress towards these goals in 2020.
The 2020 Pennsylvania Climate Impacts Assessment documents that Pennsylvania’s average state temperature has climbed nearly 2° F since 1901, and the state average annual rainfall has increased about 10 percent, while extreme weather events have increased. It’s projected that by mid-century, every county will be 4.9° F hotter than in 2000, while average rainfall continues to increase 8-12 percent unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.