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DCNR Releases New Guidelines for Siting, Planning, and Maintaining Grid-Scale Solar Systems in Pennsylvania

Released January 2023 via the Pennsylvania GreenGov Council Newsletter

New Guiding Sustainability Principles for Large Solar
Interest in harnessing power through solar energy is increasing and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has developed guidance for entities across Pennsylvania that are considering building grid-scale solar installations.

A grid-scale solar facility is one which generates power from the sun and feeds it into the power grid, supplying a utility with energy. The guidance document is intended to help landowners, municipal officials, developers, investors, and planners make informed decisions regarding the siting and development of grid-scale solar.

The new resource, Conservation Considerations for Siting, Planning, and Maintaining Grid-Scale Solar Systems in Pennsylvania (PDF) includes a number of key resources for informed planning and decision-making. The recommendations in the document outline considerations for siting best practices and for sustainable design. They include:

  • Prioritize the conservation and protection of mature forests, recreational lands, plant and wildlife habitat, and vital ecosystems;
  • Prioritize siting on already disturbed lands;
  • Co-locate near existing energy infrastructure;
  • Avoid and minimize erosion and sedimentation;
  • Actively protect and restore wildlife habitat to include and support native species; and
  • Include decommissioning that restores the land to the same condition as it was before.

Grid-scale solar installations are not permitted on DCNR lands, nor on lands that have received DCNR grant funds.

Though DCNR does not permit grid-scale solar installations, the department is deploying small-scale solar arrays to take certain buildings and facilities off the grid, saving money and reducing DCNR’s carbon footprint. By 2030, DCNR will derive all its electric from renewables, about half of that through solar installations.

Renewable energy alternatives, such as solar, help to mitigate the impacts of climate change and reduce the commonwealth's greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, there are more than 14,000 solar systems operating in Pennsylvania, and the Wolf Administration encourages private citizens to consider going solar in their homes.

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Pennsylvania Audubon Council White Paper, Guidelines for Municipalities: Bird-Friendly and Environmentally Responsible Utility-Scale Solar

Please find attached a “Release” and an “Executive Summary” of Pennsylvania Audubon Council's recent white paper regarding Guidelines for Municipalities: Bird-Friendly and Environmentally Responsible Utility-Scale Solar. The white paper is authored by the Pennsylvania Audubon Council’s Renewable Energy Committee which is solely responsible for its content.


The PA Audubon Council was formed in 2020 to serve Audubon chapters in Pennsylvania. The Council seeks to advocate for the conservation and preservation of birds, other wildlife and the environment on which they depend through the sharing of resources and ideas among and between the chapters, and in collaboration with other conservation partners.

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