Aqua Pennsylvania breaks ground on solar farm at Ingram's Mill Water Treatment Plant

BRYN MAWR, PA, Nov. 12, 2009 -- Aqua Pennsylvania, elected officials and environmental leaders gathered to celebrate the start of construction of a 1.1 megawatt photovoltaic solar farm at Aqua's Ingram's Mill Water Treatment Plant...

• Solar farm will be among the largest to date on the east coast

BRYN MAWR, PA, Nov. 12, 2009 -- Aqua Pennsylvania Inc. (Aqua) managers were joined today by elected officials and environmental leaders 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, Pennsylvania 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. Among the benefits of the new facility will be that it:

  • offsets the need for 3,000 barrels of oil each year;
  • avoids the equivalent of 2.6 million car miles each year; and
  • reduces CO2 emissions by 1.4 million pounds each year.

"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 Chairman and CEO 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."

"This project will return great economic and environmental dividends to Pennsylvania and increase the state's energy diversity," DeBenedictis said. "Aqua is proud to be a part of this cutting-edge technology, and we hope our project will encourage growth within the solar sector of the energy market to reduce the nation's carbon footprint."

The 1.1 MW solar farm, to be constructed by the Conergy Group, will provide a direct benefit to the water treatment plant by providing 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 a direct 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 all 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 commence when the solar arrays are complete and ground restoration is completed.

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