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Chambersburg residents and the environment could both get a break next year when a new solar farm in Hamilton Township starts producing electricity for the Borough.

Town Council approved a public-private partnership this month with Sun Tribe of Charlottesville, Va. for a 19.5 MWdc solar generating facility at Elk Ridge in Hamilton Township.

The borough has multi-decade leases for undeveloped land from two private property owners adjacent to the borough.

With a planned completion date of Summer 2021, the new solar system will provide enough energy to power about 2,450 homes each year.

Jeffrey Stonehill called the project “groundbreaking.“

He said a cheap, renewable source of electricity will help guide the local economy back to prosperity, assuming the economy needs to rebound over the next few months or years.

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“Smart investment in power will lead to lower operating costs for businesses and major employers,” Stonehill said. “(It will also) control household expenses.”

The partnership with Sun Tribe is advantageous to the borough also, he said. Sun Tribe is an experienced public sector solar provider, serving the Mid-Atlantic United States.


Related: Penn State solar farm project


How it works

Chambersburg has a 20-year power purchase agreement with Sun Tribe Development – Sun Tribe’s provider of large-scale renewable energy solutions.

The Elk Ridge solar farm will not require an investment of Borough funds for the equipment. It will provide significant financial savings through lower energy costs however, Stonehill said.

“It also represents a significant commitment by the borough to solar power,” he said. “(That) will help fuel Chambersburg’s economy for decades to come.”

Council President Alice Elia said the town’s electric department wanted to add solar energy to their power portfolio for years.

“The goal was to find a site geographically near the Borough where a system can be constructed and connected directly into the Borough power grid,” she said.

That bypasses the need for wholesale power purchases from what is sometimes a volatile marketplace.

“We wanted a renewable energy source that exemplified our commitment to environmental stewardship, but also made economic sense,” she said.

Finding the best value for ratepayers

When the borough put out a request for proposals for the project, over a dozen companies expressed interest. Three were interviewed before the borough settled on SunTribe.

Sun Tribe provided the best potential value for Chambersburg’s ratepayers, Electric Department Supervisor Ron Pezon said.

“As experienced providers with a comprehensive team located just down I- 81, we felt they were the best fit,” he said.

If all goes as planned, the development project will break ground later this year. The project will begin to produce electricity in 2021.

Financial assistance for the project was provided through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

About The Borough of Chambersburg

Chambersburg is a unique community. It supplies more services than any other municipality in Pennsylvania. In addition to typical town functions, Chambersburg is Pennsylvania’s only municipality supplying electric and gas.

Chambersburg is 1 of 35 Boroughs to operate a municipal non-profit electric utility. Chambersburg is the largest municipal electric utility in Pennsylvania, twice as large as the second largest, Ephrata, Lancaster County; and, the only one to operate generation stations.

The borough is one of two Pennsylvania municipalities to operate a natural gas utility. The other is Philadelphia, which does not operate an electric utility.

Nationally, Chambersburg is one of 2,000 communities to have its own electric system. It is one of 800 communities to have a natural gas system but one of only about 50 operating both.

Chambersburg manages a regional water system, a regional sanitary sewer system, and a new storm sewer utility; one of the first storm sewer utilities to form under the new Federal mandate to regulate stormwater. Chambersburg currently has 20,508 residents (2013).

About Sun Tribe

With over 70 employees, over 100 projects completed or under development, and an award-winning track record of innovation and implementation, Sun Tribe is one of the fastest growing clean energy companies in the Mid-Atlantic United States.

Thanks to an experienced, in-house team of development, engineering, financial, regulatory, procurement, and construction experts, Sun Tribe serves as a comprehensive energy advisory and delivery company for our client- partners.

Whether building the first solar array to sit on an abandoned coal mine in Virginia’s history; powering the first 100% solar school district east of the Mississippi; installing solar on flagship state government buildings; or working with Fortune 200 companies to help meet their sustainability goals, Sun Tribe specializes in creating a brighter energy future through long-lasting, sustainable partnerships.

Sun Tribe is home to two thriving companies: Sun Tribe Solar (on-site solutions) and Sun Tribe Development (utility-scale solutions). Sun Tribe is headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia.

About Sun Tribe Development

As Sun Tribe’s provider of large-scale renewable energy solutions, Sun Tribe Development partners with Fortune 500 companies, landowners, governments, and leading utilities as they move towards a cleaner energy future. With an emphasis on quality, community-focused projects, Sun Tribe Development specializes in sustainable solar solutions.

Sun Tribe Development has built one of the most experienced teams in the business, with over 20GW of collective renewable energy experience.

Previously, team members have developed or built solar facilities in 17 states for the United States Navy, United States Air Force, Boston Scientific, Dominion Energy, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, Southern Company, Duke Energy, PSEG, Exelon, AEP, and Entergy.

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