Friday, May 5, 2023

PA Solar Center Honors 25 Organizations For Leadership In Clean, Renewable Solar Energy From Allegheny County

On May 4, the
Pennsylvania Solar Center honored 25 Allegheny County organizations with the prestigious Lodestar Award during their second annual Solar Soiree at the Energy Innovation Center. 

The Lodestar Award is a distinction given to Pennsylvania entities who are leading the way investing in clean and renewable solar energy. 

Sponsored by Terawatt sponsors BAI Group and EIS Solar, and Gigawatt sponsor Independence Solar, the event featured remarks from Pittsburgh’s Deputy Mayor Jake Pawlak and the PA Solar Center’s executive director, Sharon Pillar, as well as showcased the solar arrays of the Lodestar Awardees.

This is one of several regional awards programs held by the PA Solar Center.

Award Winners

Awardees included: BCI Steel; Carnegie Science Center; Chatham University; City of Pittsburgh; Eaton; EIS Solar; EOS Energy Storage; Felician Sisters of North America; Forest Hills Municipal Center; Full Tilt Energy Systems; Global Links; Millvale Community Center; Millvale Library; New Sun Rising; NexTracker; Penner & Associates Architects; Phipps Conservatory; PITT OHIO Trucking; Pittsburgh International Airport; Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy; Sankofa Village; Scalo Solar; St. Paul's Episcopal Church; Tree Pittsburgh; and University of Pittsburgh.

Comments By Award Winners

“At Eaton, we’re simplifying the energy transition and accelerating sustainable energy systems to power our operations, customers and communities.” said Ehsan Behboudi, district sales director at Eaton. “We’re honored to be recognized by the Pennsylvania Solar Center for our longtime renewable energy investments that enable low-carbon and affordable electricity at our Pittsburgh facilities. Importantly, thousands of students, professionals and customers come to our Pittsburgh Experience Center and see firsthand how solar projects support safe and reliable power.”

  As a Franciscan community, the Felician Sisters of North America are mindful of the fragility of Mother Earth and of the suffering of God’s people, especially the poor and marginalized impacted most by the environment. 

Sr. Mary Jean Sliwinski, Provincial Sustainability Coordinator for Our Lady of Hope Province shared, “The Felician Sisters commit to addressing our choices and model behaviors that demonstrate our commitment to decreasing our carbon footprint, the destruction of our planet and implement changes to better care for our Sister, Mother Earth.”  

In 2017, the Felician Sisters completed the final phase of a nationwide solar panel project which involved the installation of solar panels at six Felician properties across the United States. Combined, they are expected to avoid 110 million pounds of CO2 emissions over their 35-year operating life.  

Sister Jean continued, “We are grateful to the Pennsylvania Solar Center for their leadership in solar energy and for helping to guide individuals and organizations in Pennsylvania to make choices that will create more resilient communities.”

  “At BCI Steel and Full Tilt Energy Systems, we are very proud to have our manufacturing and engineering base right here in Western PA.  We have been in the solar industry since 2008 and recognize how critical renewable energy is to our future in so many ways.  We want to help Western PA take its place as a technology leader in the Solar industry,” said Matt Carroll, CEO of BCI Steel and Full Tilt Energy Systems.  “We are honored to be recognized by the PA Solar Center and appreciate all of their efforts to promote and advance the Solar industry in our region.”

  “Installing our solar array was part of our Road to Energy Independence with a goal to produce 100% of our own energy needs,” said Angela Garcia, Executive Director of Global Links. “The financial savings from our solar energy are used to meet our primary mission: to leverage a circular economy to improve health for our neighbors in Pennsylvania and in other communities around the world.”

  "New Sun Rising is committed to promoting sustainable, equitable development for the health of current and future generations. We know that clean, renewable, and affordable energy must be at the center of that transition." Scott Wolovich, Executive Director, New Sun Rising

  “At Phipps, solar power is a vital component of our efforts to address climate change,” said Richard Piacentini, president and CEO of Phipps Conservatory. “That is why 100% of our electricity has been provided by renewable sources since 2005 and the three net-positive energy buildings on our campus are powered entirely by solar energy generated on-site. We’re honored by this special recognition from the PA Solar Center and hope that their efforts continue to inspire others to make the switch to clean, renewable power.”

  “We are the first major airport in the world to be completely powered on our own with a microgrid fueled by solar energy and natural gas. Microgrids are a way to provide more sustainable energy and more resilient power, which is crucial for 24/7 operations at airports,” said Tom Woodrow, Senior Vice President of Engineering & Intelligent Infrastructure at PIT. “Thank you to the Pennsylvania Solar Center for recognizing that innovation.”

  “The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy is honored to receive the Solar Center's prestigious Lodestar Award in recognition of the Frick Environmental Center (FEC). We are incredibly proud that the FEC, a certified Living Building and one of the greenest buildings in the world, is helping to create a more sustainable and healthier environment for Pittsburghers. Congratulations to all of this year's award recipients, and kudos to them for advancing sustainable resources for our great region.” – Catherine Qureshi, President and Chief Executive Officer, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

  “The University of Pittsburgh is committed to producing or procuring 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and 100% by 2037,” said Dr. Aurora Sharrard, Executive Director of Sustainability, University of Pittsburgh. “Our partnership with Vesper Energy on the 20-megawatt Gaucho Solar power facility just 25 miles from our Pittsburgh campus will generate ~18% of Pitt’s annual electricity.  With a brand new rooftop 108 kW solar array on our Pitt-Bradford campus and several rooftop solar arrays in design or construction for the Pittsburgh campus, our solar present and future are bright.”

Solar Soiree

The luminous evening was also filled with fantastic food, a solar-powered beer and wine tasting, and beautiful music. More than 100 guests attended, many wearing the beautiful colors of the sun and/or sun-themed accessories.

“The PA Solar Center is excited to host our second annual Solar Soiree, and we’re so honored to be joined by so many wonderful local and statewide organizations,” said Sharon Pillar, Founder and Executive Director of the PA Solar Center. “Solar is becoming an increasingly big player in the energy landscape across the country, thanks to its cost-efficiency and sustainability. But we’re not realizing its full potential in Pennsylvania due to stagnant policy. It’s our hope that the work of many people -- including those whom we’re celebrating during the soiree -- will help Pennsylvania take advantage of the huge economic development and jobs opportunity offered by the solar industry pipeline by raising the benefits of solar to our state’s decision makers. We have the ability to create tens of thousands of jobs if we get the policy right.”

Guests helped the PA Solar Center celebrate its successes over the past few years and look to the future of expanding clean energy across our state. 

This year’s Solar Soiree featured John Marcinizyn on the guitar, as well as solar-powered breweries and wineries like Troegs Independent Brewing and Manatawny Winery, and signature mocktails. 

A silent auction was also held with products from other solar-powered companies, including Levin Furniture and Pump House Bed & Breakfast.

Best Time To Go Solar

More and more Pennsylvania businesses, schools, and organizations are choosing to go solar, and not just for sustainability reasons. 

Investments in renewable energy sources like solar and wind are also extremely cost-effective, paying for themselves relatively quickly and then achieving impressive cost savings down the road.

Entities that go solar wisely recognize that an investment in renewable energy is also an investment in their local communities. 

Pennsylvania renewable energy projects have created almost 10,000 jobs spanning the entire supply chain since 2004, from technicians and engineers to salespeople, construction workers, and manufacturers. 

And according to the Finding Pennsylvania Solar Future Project, increasing the solar portion of the state’s electricity mix from the current 0.5 percent goal to 10 percent by 2030 would create upwards of 100,000 jobs and result in a net economic benefit of $1.6 billion annually. 

The current 0.5 percent goal flat-lined on May 31st of 2021, but if the state’s General Assembly would increase it, they would diversify our energy mix that will help to stabilize rising electricity costs that we have seen in the past couple of years.

The Pennsylvania Solar Center is a nonpartisan, nonprofit effort to raise the awareness of the benefits of solar energy in Pennsylvania and make available tools to transition to clean energy. Click Here to sign up for regular updates.

(Photos: top- Millvale Community Center; Millvale Library & Global Links; bottom- Felician Sisters of North America & Phipps Conservatory.)

Related Articles:

-- PA Solar Center To Honor Blair, Somerset, Westmoreland County Groups For Solar Energy Leadership Nov. 17  [PaEN]

-- 18 Lancaster County Farms And Businesses Receive PA Solar Center Solar Energy Leadership Awards  [PaEN]

-- PA Solar Center Recognizes Solar Energy Leaders In Beaver, Washington Counties  [PaEN]

-- PA Solar Center Recognizes 10 Solar Energy Leaders In Central PA  [PaEN]

Related Articles - Awards:

-- 21 Projects Honored With The 2023 Governor's Award For Environmental Excellence  [PaEN]

-- PA Environmental Council: Making This Place Better - Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald Honored With Lifetime Achievement Award  [PaEN]

[Posted: May 5, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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