Presque Isle State Park Powers Up with New Solar Arrays, Leading Pennsylvania’s Renewable Energy Push

Presque Isle State ParkCredit: PA DCNR

ERIE, PADepartment of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn recently marked a significant milestone at Presque Isle State Park, unveiling newly installed solar arrays that will power the entire peninsula. This initiative is part of Governor Josh Shapiro’s broader renewable energy plan, known as the Pennsylvania Project to Utilize Light and Solar Energy (PA PULSE).

Governor Shapiro’s PA PULSE aims to secure 50 percent of the energy needed for the Commonwealth’s government from ten new solar arrays across Pennsylvania by next year, positioning the state as a national leader in clean energy.

At Presque Isle, a 280kW solar canopy array now covers the parking lot at Beach 8. This installation will save more than $30,000 annually on electricity costs and produce enough energy to power 25 average American homes. The solar array will reduce the department’s carbon footprint by over 211,000 pounds each year, equivalent to removing 20 passenger cars from the road.

“These solar arrays will provide 100 percent of the peninsula’s energy going forward,” Dunn said. “This is a big win for park visitors who now have a shady area to park, for operations at Presque Isle, and for the environment through a greener way to power its grid.”

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources plans to source 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030, primarily through solar arrays. This effort aligns with broader state goals to transition to sustainable energy solutions.

The park has already integrated sustainability efforts with three public electric vehicle charging stations at Beach 8 and the addition of a plugin hybrid minivan and electric motorcycle to its vehicle fleet. These steps began in 2021 with the announcement of Presque Isle’s sustainability plan alongside the Beach 8 solar array project.

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Other improvements from the sustainability plan include:

  • Rain gardens at Beach 8
  • Shoreline enhancements to protect infrastructure
  • Purchase of property south of the park, including the eroding Scott Run
  • Modifications to the park’s wastewater system
  • Installation of extensions to floating dock pilings in the marina to handle fluctuating water levels

Presque Isle is the first state park to adopt a site-specific climate change plan. Severe weather, flooding, fluctuating lake levels, diminished water quality, shoreline erosion, and infrastructure damage have all posed threats to visitor and staff safety, prompting the development of this plan. The proactive measures aim to mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure the park remains open and safe for the millions of visitors it attracts each year.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is also focused on integrating sustainable designs and high-performance building standards into new constructions and renovations, including at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle.

Future sustainability initiatives for department properties include additional solar arrays, more electric vehicle charging stations, reducing internal combustion engine vehicles within the agency’s fleet, and other green projects.

Advancements at Presque Isle: Paving the Way for Pennsylvania’s Sustainable Energy Future

The advancements at Presque Isle are significant for several reasons. Firstly, they symbolize Pennsylvania’s commitment to renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions. By leading with projects like this, the state sets a standard for other regions to follow, highlighting the feasibility and benefits of large-scale renewable energy adoption.

Secondly, these initiatives contribute to the economic and environmental health of Pennsylvania. Reducing energy costs and improving infrastructure resilience against climate change can save taxpayer money and protect natural resources. Furthermore, such projects can attract tourism, boosting local economies.

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In summary, the new solar arrays at Presque Isle State Park represent a crucial step in Pennsylvania’s journey towards sustainable energy. They demonstrate how investments in renewable energy and infrastructure can deliver economic, environmental, and social benefits, ensuring that the state’s natural treasures remain vibrant and accessible for future generations.

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