Land-use webinar to focus on municipal authorities tapping into renewable energy

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — How municipalities and their local authorities can utilize renewable energy such as solar to run their systems will be the topic of a web-based seminar offered by Penn State Extension.

Presenting the 75-minute webinar from noon to 1:15 p.m. on Sept. 20 will be extension educators Peter Wulfhorst and Ed Johnstonbaugh. "Renewable Energy for Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities" is part of the Penn State Extension’s summer-fall, land-use webinar series that concludes Nov. 15.

Pennsylvania municipalities, in developing their comprehensive plan, can include an energy conservation element, according to Wulfhorst. "Local municipalities can consider energy conservation as part of their planning process," he said.

"This planning can address the opportunity to work with local municipal facilities, such as water and sewer infrastructure, as well as look at methods to reduce energy consumption, including the promotion and municipal production of energy from renewable energy sources."

It is estimated that 3 to 4 percent of the electricity consumed in the United States is used for treating and distributing water and wastewater, Johnstonbaugh noted.

"In southwestern Pennsylvania, there are roughly 100 water and wastewater authorities that operate to provide safe, clean water or treatment and cleanup before release back into the environment," he said. "The price of electricity can account for as much as two thirds of the operation budget of a water or wastewater plant."

In many cases, Johnstonbaugh explained, municipal system operators are already bumping up against their ability to increase rates to raise matching funds necessary to qualify for grants to maintain or improve operating efficiencies. "In addition to stabilizing costs, municipal system operators with solar PV systems will also qualify to market Alternative Energy Credits in Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio, creating a secondary revenue stream," he said.

This webinar will introduce the Renewable Energy for Municipal Authorities Project — best known as REMAP — which will demonstrate how the solar capacity of local municipal authorities that use sustainably produced electricity can offset purchases from the grid. The savings that authorities can attain saves ratepayers money and improves the authorities’ financial footing.

Other topics and dates in the webinar series include (all of these programs are recorded and available for viewing):

— July 19: "Placemaking as an Economic Development Tool"

— Aug. 16: “PennDOT Connects Aligning Transportation Planning with Land Uses and Community Vision”

— Oct. 18: "Municipal Tree Commissions and Tree Ordinance: Do They Support Community Development?"

— Nov. 15: "Public-Private Partnerships for Municipal Recreational Facilities"

The cost of the webinar series is $40 for all five, or $75 for all five for those who want to receive certification maintenance credits from the American Planning Association or Professional Engineers.

In addition, registered landscape architects can receive continuing education credits for a fee of $45.

For more information, contact Peter Wulfhorst at 570-296-3400 or by email at ptw3@psu.edu. To register for the webinars, visit the website.

Media Contacts: 
Last Updated September 08, 2017