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Solar array proposed for Orwigsburg

A New York-based energy company wants to construct a solar array on about 40 acres in Orwigsburg.

Representatives of Dimension Renewable Energy discussed the plan Monday at a meeting of the borough zoning hearing board in the former borough hall.

The company is seeking a special exception to locate the project in a low-density residential zone. The zoning board has 45 days to respond to the request.

Orwigsburg CSG 1 LLC, an entity associated with Dimension, identified the location of the property as “North of West Market” street in its application for a special exception.

The site is an open sloping field facing south on a ridge overlooking houses along West Market Street, which is also Route 443.

The property is listed in county records as being owned by ELP Properties LLC since 2012. Once owned by St. Francis Orphanage, it lies to the north and east of Max’s Classics cars.

Nick Walsh, senior vice president for development, told the zoning board that Dimension has an agreement of sale on the property.

Christopher R. Watts, project engineer, said electricity generated by the project would be distributed by PPL Electric Utilities, which has power lines off the northern edge of the property.
He estimated the generating capacity of the project at 3 megawatts.

Watts said the solar panels would be mounted on pedestals and surrounded by vegetation. In accordance with a borough ordinance, the project area would have vegetation screening and trees.

Responding to a question from the audience, Watts said the panels have no moving parts and that there would be no motors on-site. The developer, he said, would comply with all regulations regarding stormwater runoff.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection regulations require new projects to reduce the rate of runoff that preceded them, said Watts, an engineer with Mid-Penn Engineering Corp. in Lewisburg.

“Under state regulations, there should be a lower volume of runoff than now,” he said.

Dimension would hire a local company to perform maintenance on the site, Watts said.
Responding to a question, Watts said there would be no change to the contour of the land and that there would be no illumination at night.

About a dozen people, mostly residents along West Market Street, attended the zoning board’s public hearing.

Ken Smith asked the developer if borough residents would receive discounted electricity rates because of the project. They wouldn’t.

Smith had proposed a solar project on a site about 2 miles away in West Brunswick Township, but it was not approved. He noted that his project would have given township residents a discount of up to 20% on their electricity rates.

“If there’s no benefit to Orwigsburg residents,” Smith said, “I don’t believe it should be there.”

John Fisher, who lives along West Market Street, said he’d rather see a housing project than a solar installation on the property.

Lori Sterner, also a West Market Street resident, took the opposite view.

“I’d rather see solar panels than hundreds of houses and cars,” she said.

Dimension, Walsh said, has solar projects that generate about 2,000 megawatts of electricity in several states.

The Orwigsburg project would be the firm’s first in Pennsylvania.

Source: Berkshire mont

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