1.5MW solar field near Philadelphia

Far to the north of here, a botanical garden installed more than a megawatt of solar power a year ago. Maybe Georgia Power should ask them how it’s done.

PR of 16 June 2011, LONGWOOD GARDENS COMMISSIONS 10-ACRE SOLAR FIELD: Installation first step of goal to achieve 3 MW of solar energy by 2018

June 16, 2011, Kennett Square, PA — Longwood Gardens today commissioned a new, ground-mounted solar field spanning more than 10 acres at the horticultural showplace in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

One of the largest examples of clean emission-free energy in the region, the solar field produces 1.2 MW (megawatts) of power and will produce 1.5 MW when the final panels are installed in the coming weeks. The fixed-tilt, 1.5 MW solar installation will produce enough electricity to offset the usage of approximately 138 average Pennsylvania homes and reduce Longwood’s annual carbon dioxide emissions by 1,367 tons.

“We are always looking for ways to advance our sustainable practices,” said Paul Redman, Longwood Gardens Director. “It is integral to Longwood’s mission to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels.” We want to establish best practices and lead the way in showing communities how to live responsibly,” said Redman.

Imagine if Georgia Power and Southern Company acted responsibly and led the way in solar power!

Longwood Gardens is partnering with two leading solar energy firms on the project. GroSolar of Burlington, VT is engineering and installing the grid-tied field, which consists of two arrays and more than 5,000 panels. New York-based EcogySolar owns and operates the arrays through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Through the PPA, EcogySolar owns the solar equipment and will sell the power produced to Longwood Gardens. The panels were manufactured by Motech Americas of Delaware. In more than 90% of the materials for the project were made in the US.

That’s like the PPA for a 6.1 MW solar system at a school in New Jersey. But you can’t do a PPA like that in Georgia, because of the 1973 Georgia Territorial Electric Service Act. Imagine if Georgia Power and Southern Company helped change that Act so you could generate power and sell it on an open market! If Georgia Power was leading the way, we’d probably be developing more of a solar industry right here in Georgia.

Although the solar field is not located in a public area of the Gardens, Longwood’s more than 900,000 annual guests can learn about solar power in the Idea Garden, where an 18-foot tall flower-shaped solar demonstration system is installed.

As I type, Longwood’s solar field is producing about 650 kilowatts AC at 5PM, according to the Longwood Gardens solar information page.

Like Austin, Texas, Longwood Gardens understands solar is not only a direct economic benefit, it’s also a way to advertise for your facility and community.

Right here in Lowndes County we have a perfect location for that: Lowndes High School, visible to every car and truck on I-75, and to every plane landing at the airport. They can do it in New Jersey. They can do it in Pennsylvania. But we can’t do it in Georgia. Maybe we should elect some Public Service Commissioners and legislators who will change that.


PS: Owed to Karen Noll.