PennFuture celebrates summer’s arrival by launching rooftop solar power plant


HARRISBURG, Pa., June 25, 2003 — Surrounded by clean energy supporters in summer togs and accompanied by the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty flipped the switch on a “Green Power: Turn It On!” neon sign, launching the rooftop solar power plant at the headquarters of Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture), located directly across the street from the state Capitol in Harrisburg.

“We can’t think of a better way to celebrate summer than to launch our solar power plant,” said John Hanger, president and chief executive officer of PennFuture. “And just like summer’s cookouts and baseball, solar power is truly all-American. It frees us from foreign oil and makes our energy markets independent.

“But more than that, solar power is good for our health,” he continued. “Even on cloudy days, we can make electricity totally pollution-free, and help reduce the smog and soot that the old outdated power plants cause, protecting the health of the 1 million Pennsylvanians with respiratory problems.

“And solar power users also benefit financially, by selling excess power back to the power companies for use by other customers,” he added. “This cutting-edge technology is good for our economy, the environment and for our energy security – in more ways than one, our solar panels are really powerful.”

McGinty and Hanger were joined at the power plant launch by John Holtz of Green Mountain Energy Company (GMEC; www.greenmountain.com). GMEC contributed to the project by purchasing the solar electric output and deducting that amount as a credit from PennFuture’s electric bill.

PennFuture’s rooftop power plant is a 3.84-kilowatt installation, which includes 32 AstroPower 120-watt modules and two Sunny Boy 1800 string inverters that should generate 3,474 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The plant is connected to the PPL electric distribution grid. TRC Alternative Energy Group installed the unit. The Sustainable Energy Fund of Central Eastern Pennsylvania and the TRF Sustainable Development Fund provided financial support for the project.

Even before the addition of the solar power plant, electricity for PennFuture’s offices was more than 100% renewable. In Harrisburg, PennFuture purchases GMEC’s Nature’s Choice 100% renewable, Green-e certified electricity. PennFuture also purchases 50,000 kWh of Green-e certified Pennsylvania wind energy from Community Energy (www.newwindenergy.com), which more than covers the amount of electricity used in PennFuture’s Pittsburgh and Philadelphia offices. By using clean renewable energy instead of traditional power for the past year, PennFuture has avoided as much pollution as not driving not 287,600 miles, taking 24.5 cars off road or planting 13,661 trees.

PennFuture has also installed a state-of-the-art device, invented by PennFuture member Stan Budney, that increases the efficiency of its Harrisburg building’s electric heat pump heating and cooling system. The device, known as a digital load control, is a little black box packed with solid-state electronics that reduces unnecessary use of energy by switching the heat pump on and off to reduce energy consumption without compromising system performance. The result – significant energy savings and reduced electric bills without any difference in comfort or convenience. PennFuture expects to save 20 percent on its electric bill with the digital load controller. More information on PennFuture and renewable energy is located online at www.pennfuture.org.

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