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State is taking a shine to solar

Renewable energy in the form of solar farms appears destined for Warren County. Earlier this month during a Planning Commission meeting, Zoning Officer Michael Lyon says he has been approached about commercial-type farms that could be anywhere from 50 to 150 acres.

Just how local officials want to move ahead with these plans is unclear. While there is a benefit to the land owner — as well as the municipality in terms of tax deals — there are other concerns. Panels also are known to catch on fire in some conditions and nearby residents can oppose the projects for one reason or another.

Within the last week, state officials touted an energy initiative that is the largest solar commitment by any U.S. governing entity to date. All told, this initiative will supply nearly 50 percent of the state government’s electricity through seven new solar arrays slated for construction in Pennsylvania’s Columbia, Juniata, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and York counties.

When the project is completed in early 2023, it is expected to deliver 361,000 megawatts of electricity each year and reduce climate-triggering carbon pollution by nearly 158,000 metric tons annually. David Masur, PennEnvironment executive director, hailed the announcement.

“Going solar is a triple win for Pennsylvania: it’s good for our planet, good for our health, and good for our pocketbooks. This smart decision is a stark reminder of the opportunity offered by going solar,” he said. “Harnessing more of the sun’s energy means cleaner air, a more stable climate, more resilient communities and an energy source we can depend on that’s virtually pollution-free.”

There will be push back regarding this. Pennsylvania is one of the leading power producers using coal.

However, other states are reducing the use of that fossil fuel. In New York state, specifically near Buffalo and Dunkirk, major coal plants power plants sit idle as energy policy dictates a shift to more hydropower, wind and solar.

Local leaders are correct to see the writing on the wall. Solar has made a big impact in locations of nearby Chautauqua County. It will likely be headed here as well.

“There’s a lot to be done,” Lyon said, noting he is in the “very, very beginning of looking at stuff.”

John D’Agostino is the editor of the Times Observer, The Post-Journal and the OBSERVER in Dunkirk, N.Y. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call (716) 487-1111, ext. 253.

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