MEGAN TOMASIC | Tuesday, March 12, 2019 12:43 p.m
The Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County could soon use a solar farm to power its Hunker Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The 12-acre farm would be located along Hunker-Waltz Mill Road in Hempfield, near New Stanton, and would hold about 11,000 solar panels, said David Hommrich, president of Sunrise Energy, contractor and owner of the project. Sunrise Energy recently purchased the land from part of the Westinghouse plant.
“They’re going to save some serious money by doing this,” Hommrich said.
The authority will not be required to pay for the cost of building, maintaining or operating of the farm, said Matthew Junker, MAWC spokesman.
They are required, however, to buy energy from the farm, which will generate about 5 million kilowatt hours per year — an amount that could power more than 450 average U.S. homes for a year, according to InsideEnergy.org. The authority will have the option to purchase the facility after six, 10 and 15 years for a value based on the amount of energy being generated at the time, Junker said.
Plans for the farm call for it to be located almost two miles from the wastewater plant, Hommrich said. Rather than building a direct line between the two areas, the power will be sent to a meter set up by West Penn Power and spread into the immediate area. A credit from the meter will then be applied to the wastewater plant.
“The (authority) is always looking to reduce its carbon footprint and save customers money,” Junker said.
Almost 10 years ago, the authority installed an electrical generation turbine at the Beaver Run Reservoir to help with power generation, he said.
The proposed solar farm will be brought to the Hempfield Area Planning Commission next month for technical review.
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203,firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter