YORK COUNTY and JUNIATA COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — We knew what was happening. Now we know where.
On Friday, abc27 News learned the solar array in Juniata County, one of seven sites in six counties envisioned to supply half the commonwealth government’s power needs beginning in 2023, will be in Fermanagh Township, east of Happy Hollows Road.
The location is bordered by Route 35 to the north and Long Road to the south — if the project gets final approval following recent approval by the township’s zoning board.
This follows news Friday morning, first reported by BizNewsPA and confirmed by abc27 News, that the solar array in York County will be along Stoverstown Road in West Manchester Township after the township’s board of supervisors approved the plan Thursday night.
The township manager, Kelly Kelch, said the array — on farmland leased for 35 years by the landowner to Lightsource bp, which will build and operate the array — has economic benefits that would come with a new business, but without some of the costs and with other benefits.
“There is very little reliance on public utilities, such as sewer and water,” Kelch said. “There are no onsite employees. It has very little traffic, not to mention the tremendous environmental benefits that a use like this has.”
Kevin Smith, Lightsource bp’s CEO, the solar arrays will be a good deal for the planet, for taxpayers and for farmers. “Farmers typically have some of their land that they continue to farm. Some of it they get nice stable income from the solar facility,” Smith said. “So that allows them to diversify their revenue streams a bit.”
Smith said farmers often lease land for solar arrays that would otherwise require government subsidies to remain productive as traditional farmland.
The Wolf Administration and solar advocates have said solar technology has advanced to where it can be not only more environmentally friendly but also cost-neutral compared to other sources of energy.
But State Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York County) — whose district includes the planned arrays in West Manchester Township learned of the land selection at the same time the public did — questioned what she considered a secretive process, as well as the actual costs, saying, “government should not be putting its finger on the scale” in favor of one energy source.
“I think you will find broad, bipartisan consensus that our state should adopt an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy policy,” Phillips-Hill said. “And York County has a little bit of everything. We have hydro, we have gas, we have nuclear, we have solar, just to name a few.”