Solar energy potential studied for Antrim Twp.

Shawn Hardy

Communities plan for water, sewer and roads, but it is equally important to plan for power, according to Antrim Township resident Connie Slye.

Slye is interested in alternative energy and has been active in supplying information to Antrim Township supervisors with the goal of developing an energy strategy for the community.

Slye arranged for a solar energy potential analysis to be done this summer by the Center for Land Use and Sustainability at Shippensburg University.

It looked at a combination of direct, diffuse and reflected radiation coupled with GIS mapping to determine Antrim Township's solar energy potential and where solar radiation is highest in the township, SU graduate student Trish Newdeck told supervisors at Tuesday night's meeting.

The study includes an example calculating the solar energy potential based on the roof area of three warehouses in the area of Exit 3 of Interstate 81 — Food Lion, World Kitchen and Armada — and projected it at $3,144,787 per year, Newdeck said.

Slye highlighted solar energy projects nearby in the Tuscarora School District and Peters Township. She said the school district plans to place solar panels on the roof of James Buchanan High School and the grounds of Mountain View Elementary School, estimating they will supply 40 percent of the power for the high school, the elementary school and James Buchanan Middle School.

The next step in Antrim Township would be to build a microgrid. The small network of electricity users and consumers would be attached to the greater power grid, but could function independently in the case of a disaster, like the approaching Hurricane Florence, or a cyberattack, Slye said.

"The right ordinance, zoning and permitting could actually incentivize an energy plan for our community," according to Slye. "The threat of an outage to our grid is substantial. We can say it's the job of First Energy to restore power, but if there is a grid outage the focus is going to be on major urban areas, not Greencastle ... We owe the community a plan for resilient power for critical infrastructure."

She added sustainability reduces waste, pollution and operating costs, while attracting businesses.