2013-01-30 / Front Page

Ayr Solar Project Dead

Element Power cites “depressed market”
By Jean Snyder

STAFF WRITER

Citing a “continuing depressed solar energy market,” Element Power announced this week that it would pull the plug on a solar energy panel project it had announced for Ayr Township in July 2011.

Element Power, a Charlottesville, Va.-based company, submitted final plans August 2011 for a $60-million solar energy project that was ultimately to contain about 187,000 solar panels on 300 acres of land leased to them by Ayr Township farmer Lee Glazier.

Jim Madden, the project manager at that time, said the location would be good for the company because it sits adjacent to the business park as well as close to West Penn Power’s transmission station. Element Power had hoped to sell solar energy to West Penn Power.

Madden also said then that when the project was “built out,” his company expected to have a 20-megawatt facility. Each megawatt (MW) of solar power provides enough power for 150 to 250 houses.

Then in July 2012, after no noticeable activity had occurred since the 2011 announcement, the supervisors received correspondence from Element Power that said the project, called the Cove Creek Solar Energy Project, “would be contracted and built in the near future.” Element Power said that while Pennsylvania’s solar energy market had been depressed due to the ongoing recession, at the same time there had been a significant drop in costs for the solar panels and other components. He said that, in the meantime, Element Power was continuing work to secure “offtake” agreements with various Pennsylvania utilities for the sale of the project’s power.

Then in a letter to Ayr supervisors last week, Madden said that “because the solar energy market is expected to remain depressed for at least the next two years, Element Power has made the difficult decision to terminate development of the Cove Creek Project and withdraw our application for approval of our preliminary plan.” His letter also implied that the company was having trouble securing “offtake” agreements needed to make the project successful.

Also during Monday night’s township meeting, the supervisors met with Randall Kring, an engineer with Keller Engineering, regarding preliminary plans for a new warehouse business in the Fulton County Business Park. According to Kring, the plan is to construct a 40,000-square-foot warehouse for Marmon/Keystone on land located just off the Secrist Springs road behind Tri-State Community Health Center. Marmon/ Keystone had been leasing space from Fulton Precision, but must vacate the space that is needed by Fulton Precision. Marmon/ Keystone cuts steel, predominantly for JLG.

The supervisors approved a request for a public meeting to be held in February for discussion and information on the proposed bridge replacement at Big Cove Tannery on Rt. 928. Rudy Coringrato, Design Group manager with C.C. Johnson & Malhotra PC, asked to hold the meeting during the supervisors’ regular monthly meeting on February 25. The meeting with public officials will be held from 4-5 p.m.,, while the public meeting will be held from 6-7 p.m., to be followed by the supervisors’ regular meeting at 7 p.m.

In other business, the supervisors set May 4 as tire recycling day. Tires may be taken to the township building from 8 a.m.- noon on that date.

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