Penn State Solar FAQs

We’ve received lots of interest in our Penn State Solar Project, so we’ve put together a list of the most commonly asked questions, and their answers:

Will new transmission lines be run for this project?

No – the parcels selected for the project have access to existing transmission infrastructure, so we do not need to build new transmission lines.

Who is paying for the installation of the three solar systems?

Lightsource bp is leasing the land from local Franklin County residents and will finance, build, own, operate and maintain the solar systems. Penn State pays Lightsource bp for the renewable energy generated by the systems at a fixed cost for 25 years.

Are solar farms irreversible development?

No – the panels are mounted on an aluminium framework with steel legs which are pile driven into the soil. At the end of the project the installation will be dismantled and removed without harming the land.

Is solar power suited to the Pennsylvanian climate?

Lightsource bp specifically selected these sites because they have some of the best solar irradiation in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Additionally, solar panels do not require direct sunlight to produce electricity, only daylight, and actually perform more efficiently in cooler temperatures.

How are the panels kept clean?

Generally, rainfall helps to keep the panels free of dust and dirt. Several times a year, the panels will be thoroughly cleaned using specialized equipment, to make sure the installation is in the best possible condition.

Are solar farms noisy?

No – you would not expect to hear any noise beyond the site boundary.

Do solar farms pose a health or safety risk?

No – A solar farm is about as safe as a facility can be. There are no air emissions from the facility. Solar is a passive technology which doesn’t produce any harmful by-products. There are no chemicals. The power will leave the solar farm on lines just like the power lines in your neighborhood.

Is there a danger to motorists or aircraft as a result of reflection from the panels?

No – solar panels are designed to absorb light rather than reflect it. The more sunlight a solar panel absorbs, the more electricity it can produce. Lightsource bp has commissioned several ‘glint and glare’ assessments as part of our planning process, and it is generally accepted that solar farms are not dangerous to aircraft. In fact, solar panels only reflect a small amount of the sunlight that hits them as compared to most other everyday objects. For example, solar panels reflect significantly less light than flat water.

What will the impact be on wildlife?

Studies have confirmed that solar farms can bring about significant increases in wildlife populations and biodiversity on agricultural land. They are essentially secure sites with little disturbance from humans or machinery once installation is complete. Additionally, we often plant new trees and hedgerows, and seed wild flowers and grasses, all of which enhance prospects for biodiversity and local wildlife.

Is there an impact on flood risk?

No – the posts on which the panels are mounted typically take up less than 1% of the land area, with the majority of the site being grassland.

Will the solar farm cause traffic disruption?

Once the solar farm is in place it requires very little maintenance and approximately monthly visits in regular cars or 4x4s would cause no traffic disruption. While the solar farm is being constructed, a traffic management plan will be put in place.