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Solar conference planned

Statewide event will highlight renewable energy progress

BLAIRSVILLE — Non­profit group Solar United Neighbors will host the second annual Pennsylvania Solar Congress on Saturday in Blairsville.

This statewide conference attracts solar owners, supporters and advocates from across Pennsylvania and will include presentations about solar technology, as well as the current solar landscape and future for solar energy.

The event will highlight the renewable energy progress made in Indiana County, with Commissioner Sherene Hess providing the welcome remarks.

“There is increased interest in the sustainable provision of reliable, low-cost sources of energy around the region, the state and the country,” Hess said in a statement. “Solar energy proves to be a promising addition to our region’s energy portfolio, and I’m excited to showcase that at the Pennsylvania Solar Congress.”

In 2019, the Indiana County Sustainable Economic Develop­ment Task Force partnered with Solar United Neighbors to run the Indiana County Solar Co-op, the group’s most successful solar co-op in the state, faring even better than co-ops in the more densely populated Pittsburgh.

The total number of solar installations in Indiana County grew by almost 70 percent in a single year due to the 2019 co-op. Nineteen county residents installed solar, and more than 140 learned about solar at free information sessions hosted by Solar United Neighbors. The co-op resulted in 210 kW of solar power installed, $385,340 invested in the regional economy and 5.2 million pounds of lifetime carbon offsets.

The event will cover topics relevant to Western Pennsylvania’s residents, including farmers and rural homeowners. Speaker Ed Johnstonbaugh, energy savings and renewables educator at PennState Extension, will present a session for landowners curious about hosting large-scale solar arrays on their land.

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