A Pennsylvania water treatment plant is basking in the sun, soaking up the rays – lots of rays, considering that 4,400 solar panels provide a third of the facility's electrical needs.

Using the U.S. Recovery Act to finance its 1 MW solar farm, the Ingram's Mill facility in East Bradford, Pa., owned by Aqua Pennsylvania, now saves 1.2 million kW/hr and $77,000 a year.

Running round the clock and pumping 35 million gallons of water a day to hundreds of thousands businesses and residents gets expensive and sucks up energy from the grid. The solar farm alleviates grid congestion, which reduces line losses and congestion charges, and ultimately saves consumers money.

The sea of solar panels sits on a four-acre piece of land just behind the water treatment plant. The project took Denver-based Conergy about nine weeks to build.

Aqua used a $1 million State Energy Program grant administered through the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority with Recovery Act funds to build the $6 million farm. According to some estimates, the farm offsets the need for 3,000 barrels of oil a year, which reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 1.4 million pounds annually.

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