Mayor Nutter and Kathleen McGinty, head of the state Department of Environmental Protection, used a sunny afternoon at City Hall today to announce that a European company with new offices here plans to install solar energy panels on about eight acres of "brownfield" industrial land at the former U.S. Naval Shipyard in South Philly. Epuron will develop the panels, which collect solar energy from the sun, and sell the power to Exelon, the parent company of PECO. The city will lease the land for the panels, which will cost between $8 million and $12 million to develop and will eventually produce about one megawatt of energy. That's enough to power 200 homes in the city for one year.
"While others are holding conferences from time to time and talking about renewable energy, here in Philadelphia we're taking action," Nutter told a small crowd of very enthusiastic people outside City Hall. "And we're putting environmentally challenged ground back into productive use. That should become the new model of urban sustainability." Nutter added that the U.S. Department of Energy last month chose Philadelphia as one of 12 "Solar American Cities." The city received a DOE grant of $200,000 to work on a strategy to triple the number of solar energy panels used in Philadelphia, Nutter said.
Epuron and Exelon partnered last August with Waste Management Inc. to install about 17,000 solar energy panels in Fairless Hills, Bucks County. That project is expected to collect three megawatts of electricity, enough to power 2,400 homes. The Naval Yard project, Nutter said, is the "largest big city installation" in the country and, combined with Bucks County project, is the largest installation on the east coast.