County To Build Solar Energy Farm

The Bucks County Commissioners unanimously vote to hire an engineering firm for a solar energy farm project.

A solar energy farm. File photo.

Bucks County plans to build a solar energy farm on land it owns.

On Wednesday, the Bucks County Commissioners – two Democrats and one Republican – unanimously voted to hire Montgomery County-based Schiller and Hersh Associates for an amount not to exceed $29,490 to provide engineering services and construction consultation for the planned solar energy farm.

The solar energy farm is planned for a piece of open land behind the soon-to-be-constructed 39,000-square-foot, two-story new Lower Bucks County Government Services Center in Bristol Township that will host offices for 13 county departments. The building is planned for the open space in front of the warehouse at the county property on New Falls Road in Bristol Township’s Levittown section by the Levittown Library and Levittown Fire Company No. 2 station.

Michael Connelly, the deputy director of operations for the Bucks County General Services Department, said the solar farm is proposed for the area where there is a large concrete pad that was once part of the Morton Thiokol operation at the property.

The concrete pad where the county is looking to build the solar energy farm.
Credit: Tom Sofield/

If the plan moves forward, the solar energy farm would be the first built by the county government, which has looked at sustainability measures in recent years.

While the solar energy farm won’t directly be built for the new county facility, the energy generated will be sold to PECO for local use on their grid, which could save as much as $2.5 million in the county’s energy costs over 30 years, Connelly said.

Due to recent incentives and rebates, the county’s solar energy farm will bring in nearly $500,000 in the first year because of its green energy design and reuse of a brownfield, which means a site has pollution from a past industrial use, Connelly explained.

The power generated and sold to PECO would bring in more money and credits than the project costs, he said.

A final cost for the project and timeline were not presented, as design and engineering work still need to be completed.

How the project is funded, whether through financing or being paid for upfront, will impact the amount saved by county government, according to a presentation shown to the commissioners.

The county had looked at adding solar panels to the roof of the new building, but the cost led to the county looking toward building a ground-based solar energy farm, Connelly said.

A rendering of the planned Lower Bucks County Government Services building.

The use of the proposed 500kW solar energy farm would be equivalent to taking 1,500 vehicles off the road, planting 315,781 planted trees, and not using 16,033 barrels of oil.

Connelly said that the project is a “no-brainer” for the county.

Commissioner Vice Chairperson Bob Harvie, a Democrat, said the power sold back to PECO will help power nearby homes, businesses, and public facilities.

“It’s a concrete pad that essentially is just vacant and can be used for this. There’s not the necessity of doing site work and that cuts down on the cost,” he said.

The Lower Bucks County Government Services Center project has an estimated cost of $25 million, and construction is set to start in early 2024 with completion anticipated in 2026.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect that Connelly is the deputy director and not director, as previously reported.

About the author

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield has covered news in Bucks County for 12 years for both newspaper and online publications. Tom’s reporting has appeared locally, nationally, and internationally across several mediums. He is proud to report on news in the county where he lives and to have created a reliable publication that the community deserves.