Pennsylvania's largest solar farm taking shape in East Drumore

A worker installs a solar panel at the Keystone Solar Project in East Drumore Township on Wednesday in this file photo from 2012. (Dan Marschka / Staff)

Solar power could be created atop decommissioned coal ash basins in southwestern Lancaster County, with Talen Energy planners preparing to present a renewable energy proposal to Martic Township officials next month.

Dubbed the Holtwood Solar Project, plans call for arrays to be installed through a partnership between Allentown-based Talen and New York-based BQ Energy, which specializes in renewable energy projects, according to an information sheet.

A sketch of the proposed project footprint shows that it’s planned for Talen-owned land near Old Pinnacle Road.

The solar arrays should be capable of generating 20 megawatts of power, according to the information sheet. They’d be placed on about 80 acres, Talen officials said, touting the benefits of building atop the ash basins.

“Developing solar on existing ash basins will help turn this limited-use land into space that produces renewable, solar power,” they said in the information sheet.

Early predictions call for construction to begin in the back half of 2021, though Talen community relations manager Taryne Williams said that’s not a sure thing.

Talen officials estimate that construction likely would take place over a six-month period, creating jobs for heavy equipment operators, electricians and other construction workers, according to the information sheet.

“This is in very early stages and any projected dates are subject to change,” Williams said.

Because the project is only in its early stages, formal plans cannot be shared, and details are limited, said Martic Township Manager Karen Sellers.

“To date, we have not heard any specifics,” she said.

However, some details were revealed in the information sheet shared by Williams earlier this month.

The project cost was not revealed, but Talen officials said it will be funded privately, not relying on any government grants or taxpayer dollars.

It’s expected that the proposed solar setup would have a life span of at least 25 years, according to the information sheet.

Solar project plans likely will be presented to the township zoning hearing board at 7 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Rawlinsville Fire Company, 33 Martic Heights Drive, Holtwood, Sellers said.

Pennsylvania regulations require power companies to ensure that at least 0.5% of the state’s energy is created through solar by 2021, according to a spokesman for the state Public Utility Commission.

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