Purchasing local solar power is a win-win for cities

Whether it’s Lancaster County produce or Kennett Square mushrooms, people in Philadelphia — and in many U.S. cities — recognize the benefits of buying food locally: it’s better for the environment and supports the regional economy.

As it turns out, buying energy locally can have the same benefits. Just as Pennsylvania’s agricultural heritage allows Philadelphians to buy from nearby farms, the Keystone State’s renewable energy potential offers the option of buying homegrown clean electricity.

In December, the city council passed and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed a bill that will give Philadelphia a major push, by making a power purchase agreement with a local solar energy developer. Adams Solar, part of Radnor, Pennsylvania-based Community Energy, will build a 70-megawatt solar farm in nearby Adams County over the next two years.

This facility, seven times larger than Pennsylvania’s largest existing solar facility, will provide 22 percent of our city government’s electricity at a competitive fixed rate for the next 20 years.

What can other cities learn from this experience? For one thing, Philadelphia is one of 105 U.S. cities that have committed to getting 100 percent of its electricity from clean sources. Committing to obtain all of Philadelphia’s electricity from renewables by 2030 — less than a dozen years from today.

These goals matter. Philadelphia’s commitment gave my office a mandate to start searching for renewable energy solutions right away.

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