Why one senior living provider is going solar: Guest view

For businesses planning for the future, the advantages of solar energy are clear.

From both an environmental and economic standpoint, solar energy offers the opportunity for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and to accrue significant cost savings over time.

However, going solar requires an initial investment that keeps many organizations from taking the first step, which is why initiatives that remove the cost barrier, such as the Commonwealth Finance Authority’s Solar Energy Grant Program, are critical for the future of our state’s environment and economy.

It is no coincidence that a state actively investing in solar energy is also one of the nation’s leaders when it comes to clean energy innovation. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Pennsylvania is home to more than 530 solar energy businesses, making it one of the largest solar employers in the nation. Currently, more than 40,000 homes in Pennsylvania are powered by solar energy.

And now, thanks to investments from Gov. Tom Wolf and the Commonwealth Finance Authority, we at Presbyterian Senior Living, a nonprofit organization providing retirement and senior care services based in Dillsburg, will be able to join the growing list of businesses powered by solar energy.

On March 16, 2018, Presbyterian Senior Living received two authority grants for $1.2 million and $1 million, respectively, to fund solar panel installations on two of our campuses: Westminster Woods at Huntingdon in Huntingdon, and Quincy Village in Quincy. These grants will support the installation of rooftop or ground-mounted solar panels that will generate significant amounts of electricity.

The installation will allow us the opportunity to lock in energy costs for a fixed rate for the foreseeable future, providing reduced costs on a per-kilowatt basis. It will also allow us to provide a better quality of life for our residents, as it is an investment in clean air and a sustainable environment.

At Presbyterian Senior Living, we have long been a leader in energy conservation and innovation. It’s a priority that has led us to establish our Environmental Stewardship and Energy Initiative, to invest in geothermal projects, and to install one of the largest solar arrays on the East Coast at our Glen Meadows Retirement Community in Glen Arm, Maryland.

And now, thanks to support from the state of Pennsylvania, we are conducting our largest solar energy installation to date. By creating opportunities for environmentally-conscious organizations to commit to clean energy solutions, the state’s solar energy program is continuing to advance Pennsylvania’s role as a leader in renewable energy, and ensuring that local businesses can continue to thrive for decades to come.

We at Presbyterian Senior Living have been proud to serve older adults for almost 90 years — and we look forward to continuing our work for at least 90 more. Experience has taught us that the key to longevity is sustainability. Our organization is deeply committed to being an industry leader when it comes to embracing solar energy solutions. Thanks to support from our partners in state government, we are confident that solar power will sustain our campuses for years to come.

Casey Jones is vice president of plant operations and assets for Presbyterian Senior Living. The Dillsburg-based nonprofit provides services to roughly 6,000 seniors at 30 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Ohio.

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