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West Rockhill Township: A Shining Example

In 2021, Exact Solar designed and built a solar system for West Rockhill township to replace 100% of their municipal electricity costs (powering maintenance buildings, wells, stoplights, city buildings, etc.) with clean, sun-powered energy. 

Former West Rockhill board member Jim Miller spearheaded the project. Almost three years later, after seeing how well their system has performed, he’s become a solar evangelist.

Background and Planning 

In 2015, Jim installed a solar system on his home in West Rockhill. After seeing that the array on his home nearly eliminated his energy costs, he decided to see if he could replicate the same benefits for his town. He took the idea to the board, and they started shopping around for installers.

Their goal was to eliminate their annual $13,000 power bill from PP&L, with a payback period that was low enough that they’d have a 10 to 15 year ROI on their upfront investment.

Because the tax credit was lower back in 2015, solar was a bit more expensive, and they couldn’t get the rebates they wanted, the West Rockhill board couldn’t make the numbers work.

They put the project on the shelf until 2020. Since power costs had gone up dramatically during the pandemic and solar costs had fallen, they thought it was worth going forward. They put out an RFP, and after sifting through various proposals from potential installers, they chose Exact Solar.

According to Jim, they were the first township to take this leap:

The project specs for West Rockhill Township’s system.

West Rockhill needed to offset their 84-megawatt-hour annual usage, or as Jim put it when we spoke, they needed a system 10 times the size of the system on his home’s roof.

To meet their needs, Exact Solar designed a 180-panel system and worked through the permitting process and the snags in the process that came up with the utility. 

After project approval in late 2020, we built the system behind the township’s main municipal building. We ended up having to dig a trench from the array to the municipal building so we could run the wires underground. 

Financial and Environmental Impact 

West Rockhill’s array came online in May of 2021. In the first month of operation, Exact swapped out a panel and an inverter that wasn’t performing as expected to make sure the system was performing at its peak capacity. Since then, Jim’s been thrilled with the results.

In 2021, the first year it was operational, West Rockhill’s system produced 101 MWh, far out-generating West Rockhill’s power needs. In 2022, because the system was operating for a full year, it produced 108 MWh of electricity. This is 24 MWh more than the town needs! 

To put that in perspective, the extra energy produced by West Rockhill’s system in 2022 would be enough to run Jim Miller’s house for 3 straight years.

According to the power generation tracker on West Rockhill’s website, their system has generated 285.24 MWh since it was installed.

Their system returns money to the taxpayers in three ways:

  1. Net and Virtual metering 
  2. PP&L purchase of excess power production (money generated from their power company “buying back” the excess electricity that their system produces). 
  3. Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) sales.

You can see how much each of those categories has returned since the system’s inception in the graph below: 

A breakdown of how much the West Rockhill system has returned to the town’s citizens since it was switched on.

Community Engagement 

A few months after their solar system went live, Jim’s started inviting people to come see how well it was working. State senators and board members from other towns have since come to see how West Rockhill is making solar work for them.

When West Rockhill installed their solar system, they expected an 11-year payback (meaning the amount of time until the system generates enough electricity to offset the original cost). Because their system has outperformed their expectations, they’re now on track for a nine-year payback. 

What 19 Years of Experience Gets You 

Exact Solar has been around for 19 years. In that time, we’ve built thousands of solar systems. Our expertise is unmatched in Southease New Jersey and Pennsylvania. When you choose Exact Solar, you’ll get a solar system built correctly, the first time. 

This is not always the case. Many solar installers don’t use high-quality materials and don’t properly protect the components of the solar system. 

Solar panels themselves will produce power for 25-30 years. But if the wiring components that make up the rest of the system aren’t properly installed, other parts in the system might be damaged. 

If you’re interested in what can go wrong with an inexperienced installer, we’ve published a guide for homeowners and prospective commercial system investors called Exact Solar, Put Your Home In The Right Hands. Because we’ve repaired hundreds of poorly built solar systems in 19 years, we laid out the most common mistakes we’ve seen new and out-of-business installers make.

We’re still in business in this tough industry because we build everything correctly, the first time. Today, we’d like to use pictures of our installation at West Rockhill to show you exactly how Exact Solar will build your system right. 


Take a look at the picture below. This is West Rockhill’s solar array as seen from the back. It’s the side that faces the municipal building, so we worked hard to make sure that it’s pleasant to look at. You can see that all of the conduits (the metal pipes that house the wiring) are evenly spaced and that all of the conduit runs into each box at the bottom, not on the sides or the top. 

Each piece of conduit is spaced apart from the others evenly. 

Attaching conduit at the bottom of junction boxes and inverters stops water from building up inside the conduit and ruining the wires. Each piece of conduit and junction has little holes drilled into the bottom at strategic points to let water out. 

West Rockhill’s solar array as seen from the back during installation.

Clever Engineering

As mentioned before, we had to dig a trench from the solar array to West Rockhill’s municipal building. When the earth is filled back in after a trench is dug, the ground settles, putting pressure on the pipes that house the wiring and potentially yanking on the wires inside.

To mitigate this risk, we built in a flexible connection to the junction box. As you can see in the picture below, the connection point can move up and down as the earth does. Before the box was screwed shut, we looped the wire inside so that there was plenty of give, enabling the pipes to move up and down as needed. 

The entry point where the wires from the solar system feed into West Rockhill’s Municipal Building.


The picture below was taken when the installation was completed. Notice the difference between the first photo and this last one. In the first one, you can still see the exposed wires from the solar panels during construction.

In the finished product, pictured below, you can see that all of the wires have been covered. There are no safety risks here. If kids or teenagers were to run around under this array, there’s no chance that they’d be able to touch anything that might hurt them. 

The installation below is safe, looks great, and will be protected from the elements for years to come. 

West Rockhill’s system as seen from the back when the installation was complete. 

The system will be producing power for 30-40 years with almost no maintenance, so West Rockhill can reasonably expect decades of free energy once their payback period is up. Because they love their array so much, Jim’s traveled to townships all over his region to present the solar solution. Ever since West Rockhill led the way, we’ve seen towns all over PA start to follow suit.

We’re proud of the system we built for West Rockhill, and we look forward to partnering with other townships in the future and helping them eliminate their energy costs! 

If you’re a township board member interested in saving taxpayers money, lowering your municipal energy bills, and reducing your carbon footprint in one stroke, request your free consultation today. 

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