SEPTA solar farm in Franklin County

Lightsource bp's Elk Hill 2 solar farm in Franklin County

PHILADELPHIA - A solar farm in southcentral Pennsylvania is helping to power trains and trollies 150 miles to the east.

Elk Hill Solar 2, a project developed under a power purchase agreement between the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and Lightsource bp, is now up and running in Franklin County.

The 17.5 megawatt solar farm, the first of two being created for SEPTA, will generate nearly 10% of the electricity the transit agency uses each year, which is the equivalent of providing energy to more than 2,500 U.S. homes.

"This project is a win-win, creating good-paying jobs for Pennsylvanians while locking in low prices with a clean energy source for SEPTA," said Pasquale T. Deon Sr., the agency's board chairman. "We're excited to be a part of moving the Commonwealth's energy industry forward."

More than 43,800 bifacial solar panels, which collect the sun's energy from both sides, were installed on about 80 acres of land between Greencastle and Mercersburg. The solar panels will follow the sun during the day to collect the optimal amount of sunlight, officials said.

Generation from a solar farm of Elk Hill's size and type, they added, would be expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 19,360 metric tons of CO2 annually, equivalent to offsetting the emissions of 4,180 fuel-burning cars each year.

"Transit is inherently sustainable, and this is just another example of how solar investment benefits, not just the environment, but the transit industry as a whole," said Leslie S. Richards, SEPTA's general manager. "Supporting the development of local renewable energy is another way we can deepen our positive environmental impact."

The Elk Hill 1 solar farm is expected to be online later this year.

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