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Solar Deployment Growing on DCNR Lands

March 09, 2022 12:00 AM
By: John M. Dubaich, DCNR Bureau of Facility Design and Construction

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​As the state’s leading conservation agency, DCNR strives to model practices that conserve and sustain our natural resources.

By 2030, the department will derive 50 percent of its electric from renewables. That will be accomplished mostly through solar installations.

DCNR is deploying small-scale solar arrays to take certain buildings and facilities off the grid, saving money and reducing the department’s carbon footprint.

These are not commercial arrays, intended instead to power department operations.

Solar Added to State Parks and Forests in 2021

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Parking lot solar array at Ryerson Station State Park pool

Last year was a productive year for solar installations at DCNR’s facilities across the state, with a total of 15 “grid-tied” solar arrays being deployed.

Grid-tied systems convert DC power to AC power, which is then fed directly to the grid.

Twelve out of the 15 array locations are ground mounted, two are solar canopies, and one is a combination ground mount and roof.

Solar parking canopies in the pool area at Ryerson Station State Park in Greene County are the first of a kind installed at any DCNR site.

The canopies generate power and shade the parking area. A dedication ceremony for the pool and arrays will be held this spring.

More of these canopies are planned in state parks.

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Solar array at Mount Pisgah State Park

Solar array installations completed at state parks and forests include:

  • Shikellamy State Park -- George Lane (overlook) 33kW DC array
  • Sproul State Forest -- Hyner woodshop 43kW DC array
  • Ryerson Station State Park -- swimming pool 205kW DC array
  • Mount Pisgah State Park -- pump house 51.5kW DC array

Solar array installations under construction:

  • Pymatuning State Park -- maintenance building 35kW DC array
  • Weiser State Forest -- resource management center complex 84kW DC array
  • Moraine State Park -- bike rental area 341kW DC array
  • Moraine State Park -- bike rental area 78kW DC array
  • Moraine State Park -- Region 2 office 19kW DC array
  • Gifford Pinchot State Park -- sewage treatment plant area 410kW DC array
  • Prince Gallitzin State Park -- maintenance complex 738kW DC array
  • Jacobsburg Enviromental Education Center -- 104kW DC array
  • Nockamixon State Park -- maintenance complex 286kW DC array
  • Evansburg State Park -- maintenance building 96kW DC array
  • Tyler State Park -- office 120kW DC array

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Solar array at Pymatuning State Park maintenance building

Including the prior 14 solar arrays that were installed between 2008 and 2020 and the 2021 and 2022 installations, there are a total of 29 arrays on DCNR lands.

There also are two off-grid solar arrays at Caledonia and Oil Creek state parks that use batteries to store energy.

More DCNR Solar Arrays in the Works

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Solar array under construction at Prince Gallitzin State Park

DCNR continues to expand its renewable energy infrastructure with advancing solar technology that responds to growing consumer demand and breakthroughs in optimal solar inverter technology.

There currently are solar array projects in the bidding and design phases at:

  • Bald Eagle State Forest district office 
  • Cherry Springs State Park program pavilion roof
  • Gifford Pinchot State Park Quaker Race beach solar parking canopies and roof array
  • Hills Creek State Park office solar array
  • Keystone State Park office solar array
  • Marsh Creek State Park at the new park office 
  • Ohiopyle State Park heliport solar array and top-of-post solar arrays at boater’s change house
  • Presque Isle State Park solar parking canopies at Beach 8
  • Buchanan State Forest roof array at Chaneysville maintenance headquarters


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Solar array at Sproul State Forest district workshop

By the end of 2023, DCNR will have 39 solar arrays in place, including 10 state parks and three forest district maintenance complexes at net-zero energy consumption.

These facilities will:

  • Offset DCNR’s annual electricity usage by 25 percent
  • Save up to $750,000 per year on electricity
  • Reduce more than 4,500 tons/year of CO2 emissions (an average car emits 4.6 tons/year)
  • Save more than 100,000 trees per year

Want to follow DCNR’s model and give solar energy a try at home? The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has a Solar Energy fact sheet (PDF) available if you’re considering installing solar energy.

If you can’t install, you can purchase renewable energy through a number of resources. More information is available on the Public Utility Commission’s Shopping for Electricity fact sheet (PDF).

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