NESQUEHONING – The largest solar energy farm east of Nevada is slated for construction in the Carbon County community of Nesquehoning.
Standing on an undeveloped 100-acre tract of land adjacent to the Green Acres Industrial Park on the west side of Nesquehoning Borough near Lake Hauto, state Rep. Keith McCall, D-122, on Thursday joined landowner John J. “Sonny” Kovatch Jr., Nesquehoning, and John Francis Curtis III, founder and “chief green executive” of Green Energy Capital Partners of Conshohocken, to announce that a 10.6-megawatt-ground-mounted-solar energy generating plant would be built on the site.
The facility will be the largest solar energy plant in Pennsylvania and one of the largest in the nation.
Dubbed “Pennsylvania Solar Park,” the solar farm will generate enough electricity to power 1,450 homes and eliminate more than 320,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of planting more than 25,000 acres of trees, within 30 years of operation.
“Carbon County has always been at the center of America’s energy generation. What we did for the Industrial Revolution with anthracite coal is unsurpassed. Now, we are going to be on the cutting edge of alternative energy,” McCall said.
Plans for the facility include installation of more than 900 solar trackers with 48 solar panels on each tracker. Unlike stationary solar panels, the tracking panels will pivot from east to west, following the track of the sun across the sky.
“It’s going to be beautiful to watch over the course of the day with the moving panels,” Curtis said, adding that Web cams will be installed on-site to make it easy for the public to watch the movement of the panels on the Internet.
A state-of-the-art command and control center will also be constructed on site, offering opportunities for training and education in solar energy to the public as well as future solar energy plant employees.
Green Energy Capital Partners plans to build additional solar power facilities in both Pennsylvania and Ohio, but the Nesquehoning plant will be the largest ground-mounted photovoltaics (solar energy cell) project east of Las Vegas – second in size behind a 15-megawatt facility at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
The $65 million project is being financed through a combination of private investors, federal and state incentives and tax credits.
According to Curtis, the majority of the project’s financing comes from private investors, whom he declined to identify due to ongoing negotiations.
Kovatch Enterprises, which will retain ownership of the 100-acre parcel, has entered into a 30-year lease with two 10-year renewal options – for a potential total duration of 50 years – with Green Energy Capital Partners.