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​Solar Energy

DCNR is committed to powering buildings and facilities in state parks and forests with renewable energy. The department supports transitioning to renewable energy alternatives, such as solar, to mitigate the impacts of climate change and reduce the commonwealth's greenhouse gas emissions.

By 2030, DCNR will derive all of its electric from renewables, about half of that through solar installations.

How Solar Panels Work

The sun shines on the solar panels which absorb energy and convert it into the alternating current electricity that we use to power our buildings and homes.

Solar panels generate the most electricity on clear, cool days with abundant sunshine. They also work in cloudy weather, just not quite as well.

Any power that is generated, but not needed, gets sent back (or sold) to the National Grid for others to use.

Solar Energy in State Parks and Forests

Using the clean energy from the sun, DCNR is deploying small scale solar arrays to take certain buildings and facilities off the grid, saving money and reducing DCNR’s carbon footprint.

Throughout state parks and forests, there currently are 23 solar array installations with a total capacity of 1,169.73kW.

Solar installation locations are:

  • Caledonia State Park
  • Codorus State Park
  • Buchanan State Forest
  • Fort Washington State Park
  • French Creek State Park
  • Gifford Pinchot State Park
  • Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center
  • Lackawanna State Park
  • Laurel Hill State Park
  • Mt. Pisgah State Park
  • Moraine State Park
  • Oil Creek State Park
  • Parker Dam State Park
  • Presque Isle State Park
  • Prince Gallitzin State Park
  • Pymatuning State Park&
  • Ryerson Station State Park
  • Shikellamy State Park
  • Sproul State Forest
  • Yellow Creek State Park

Grid-Scale Solar Installations

A grid-scale solar facility is one which generates power from the sun and feeds it into the grid, supplying a utility with energy.

Grid-scale solar installations are not permitted on DCNR lands, nor on lands that have received DCNR grant funds.

The department supports advancing grid-scale solar that avoids or limits impacts on forests, wildlife, and water.

As Pennsylvania’s conservation leader and trustee of the commonwealth’s natural resources, DCNR has developed guidance for landowners, developers, planners, and local officials for the siting and construction of grid-scale solar projects.

DCNR’s Conservation Considerations for Siting, Planning, and Maintaining Grid-Scale Solar Systems in Pennsylvania (PDF) guidance document includes a number of key resources for informed planning and decision-making.

The recommendations outline 10 considerations for siting best practices and eight for sustainable design. Recommendations include:

  • Prioritize the conservation and protection of mature forests, recreational lands, plant and wildlife habitat, and vital ecosystems
  • Prioritize siting on already disturbed lands
  • Co-locate near existing energy infrastructure
  • Avoid and minimize erosion and sedimentation
  • Actively protect and restore wildlife habitat to include and support native species
  • Include decommissioning that restores the land to the same condition as it was before

Solar Energy at Home

According to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, there are more than 14,000 solar systems operating in Pennsylvania.

The commission’s fact sheet Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Electricity (PDF) is a good source of information that is specific to Pennsylvania.

Here are some considerations when exploring the use of solar energy at home:

  • Is your roof suitable for solar?
  • Finding a local company that installs solar panels
  • Should you work with neighbors to create community interest and improve rates
  • Checking in with your electric distributor on how to connect
  • Costs associated with installation
  • Federal or state government assistance that is available for new solar installations

For more information, check the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s Renewable Energy web page.