The secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection was on hand for the recent dedication of solar panels at a local apartment complex, and he declared the innovation an example of the American entrepreneurial spirit.
Mike Krancer, a lawyer from Bryn Mawr, became DEP secretary after Gov. Tom Corbett took over as governor in January.
Lindy Property Management, which operates three Longwood Manor apartment buildings near Benson Street and Roosevelt Boulevard in Rhawnhurst, invited Krancer to see the 32 solar panels — 16 apiece on the roofs of buildings A and B.
Building C will be equipped with the panels in the near future, and its residents will begin taking showers and washing their dishes with water heated by the sun, instead of from natural gas.
Rushforth Solar LLC designs and installs the energy-saving, high-efficiency systems, which rely on heat from the sun to deliver hot water to residents.
Besides apartment buildings, Rushforth specializes in hotels, Laundromats, nursing homes, fitness centers and any place that uses lots of hot water year round.
A building’s operator saves on energy costs and is doing something good for the environment, supporters argue.
Rushforth, based in Bryn Mawr, has been relying on a federal investment tax credit and state subsidies to keep costs down, though those dollars are not expected to last much longer.
Proponents of solar heat presented Krancer with petitions calling on the state to keep supporting the program.
The secretary visited the high-efficiency water tanks in the basement and was impressed with the solar panel system, adding that the state — specifically the staff of energy executive Patrick Henderson — would probably consider additional funds if the initiative could deliver a “bigger bang for the buck.”
“You would help me if you would make the case,” he told the environmentally conscious crowd of business and non-profit folks.
Krancer, who said he came to Longwood Manor on a “fact-finding mission,” expects Pennsylvania to continue to deliver a diverse energy portfolio that includes coal, nuclear, natural gas, solar and wind.
Longwood Manor is located along the west side of Roosevelt Boulevard, between Benson and Hoffnagle streets.
In addition to the solar panels, Lindy Property Management focuses on other environmental aspects — encouraging recycling and water conservation and installing energy-efficient windows, boilers, lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
The solar panels, though, are the most prominent, on the roofs of two buildings near Roosevelt Boulevard.
“They basically make a statement to the thousands and thousands of people going back and forth,” said Alan Lindy, a longtime partner in the company.
The crowd at Longwood Manor included Matt Carlson, CEO of Virginia-based Sunnovations Inc., a solar hot water company that does business in Pennsylvania, and Elizabeth Crampton, an associate with the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia.
Sean Crane, co-founder of Delaware County-based HomeTown Green, said his company’s largely suburban audience is catching on to the significant cost savings that can be gained by using solar energy and other green recommendations.
Alex Fuller-Young, outreach coordinator for PennFuture’s Center for Energy, Enterprise and Environment, estimated that the state has 600 solar companies that have worked on some 4,000 projects.
“Pennsylvania is a national leader in solar jobs,” he said.
Bob Elwell, president of Montgomery-County-based Hickory Ridge Solar, said several countries mandate the use of solar heat.
Elwell said the practice is good for the environment, creates jobs and makes economic sense for a simple reason.
“The sun’s free,” he said. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org