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Lancaster officials explore solar power to reduce carbon footprint

City officials in Lancaster are developing a solar energy program to reduce carbon emissions and possibly save money in the long term.

LANCASTER, Pa. — After Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, more local governments are investing in renewable energy to take advantage of the available tax credits.

As part of a previous program, the Lancaster Department of Public Works announced they are seeking bids from companies to develop a new solar energy project slated for 2025 release. 

“It’s part of our Climate Action Plan that was established several years ago. One of the primary goals was to be able to convert to 100% renewables," said Stephen Campbell, the director of the Department of Public Works.

The project is meant to significantly reduce Lancaster’s carbon.

"The City of Lancaster basically generates approximately 17,000 metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere," Campbell explained. 

Almost 70% of the city’s total emissions are produced by its water infrastructure.

Transitioning to local-solar energy would not only benefit the environment but also Lancaster's long-term budget.

"Solar is something that pays itself back over time, which you don’t really get with fossil fuels," said industry expert Monica Carey from Solar United Neighbors.

"If [Lancaster] can manage the cost of energy better, that directly impacts the rates. It doesn't reduce the rate, but it does reduce the level of the rise of the rates," Campbell explained. 

Solar energy has already been adopted in other areas in Lancaster County, such as at Kreider Farms in Penn Township.

However, Campbell says solar panels can also be retrofitted to existing infrastructure and may not require large areas of land.

“Generally, the rooftops of municipal facilities, such as the wastewater treatment plant, the water treatment plant, the firehouses, the police stations, our operations center, those are sights," explained Campbell. 

If the program is successful, Carey believes other cities and municipalities across the Commonwealth will also explore renewable energy practices. 

"I think what we’re going to see is more commonly these local governments are going to be able to take advantage of these tax credits and pass those savings on to residents," Carey described. 

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