Traditional and Emerging Energy Innovation

Regional organizations receive Lodestar Award for solar energy leadership

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Westmoreland/Blair/Cambria/Somerset Counties, PA – Yesterday evening the Pennsylvania Solar Center presented five regional companies and organizations with the prestigious Lodestar Award, a distinction given to Pennsylvania entities who are leading the way investing in clean and renewable solar energy. Awardees were proud to accept the award at a virtual awards ceremony, and they included:

·      Epic Metals Corporation

·      Exodus Renewables

·      Green Solar Systems

·      Levin Furniture

·      Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County

·      Saint Francis University

·      Sheetz

·      Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Several speakers and highlights from projects were featured at the event, including the founder and executive director of the PA Solar Center, Sharon Pillar; state Senator Louis Schmitt (R-Blair); and others.

“We are so pleased to present these organizations with the Lodestar Award, which recognizes them for their visionary leadership in choosing to invest in sustainable solar energy,” said Sharon Pillar, Executive Director of the PA Solar Center. “Solar energy is the way of the future, and we hope that their inspiring commitment and stewardship will be lauded and emulated across the community in the years to come.”

The word Lodestar historically refers to a star used in navigation, but with the PA Solar Center’s Lodestar Award, it connotes an entity that is leading the way in its sector for leveraging solar energy. With the award, the PA Solar Center recognizes these organizations’ inspirational leadership.

More and more Pennsylvania businesses and organizations are choosing to go solar, and not just for sustainability reasons. Investments in renewable energy sources like solar and wind are also extremely cost-effective, paying for themselves relatively quickly and then achieving impressive cost savings down the road.

Entities that go solar wisely recognize that an investment in renewable energy is also an investment in their local communities. Pennsylvania renewable energy projects have created almost 10,000 jobs spanning the entire supply chain since 2004, from technicians and engineers to salespeople, construction workers, and manufacturers. And according to the Finding Pennsylvania Solar Future Project, increasing the solar portion of the state’s electricity mix from the current 0.5 percent goal to 10 percent by 2030 would create upwards of 100,000 jobs and result in a net economic benefit of $1.6 billion annually. The current 0.5 percent goal flat-lined on May 31st of last year, but if the state’s General Assembly would increase it, they would boost economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organizations interested in potentially switching to solar energy should be sure to check out PA Solar Center’s GET program (Galvanizing our Energy Transition), which provides technical assistance and financial guidance. Applications for the next round will be accepted later this year; those interested can learn more by visiting or by sending an email to


“Levin Furniture & Mattress is honored to accept a Lodestar Award for our solar installation at our warehouse in Smithton, PA,” said Robert Levin, President of Levin Furniture. “We take pride in practicing green initiatives throughout our company with the goal of conserving energy and minimizing waste.

Levin continued, “We would like to thank Greg Winks and Will Brown of Solbridge Energy Advisors who served as project consultant and owner’s representative, working with Levin leadership throughout the project. Greg has since taken a position with solar contractor, Envinity, and we wish him good luck. We look forward to remaining an environmentally responsible partner in our communities!”

“The sun and the wind are the answer to the world’s energy needs,” said David Landis, President of Epic Metals.

“Providing safe drinking water to our customers and clean water back to the environment can be energy intensive. This project provided us with control over rising energy costs and a more resilient electricity supply to our facility.  Its win for our customers and the environment,” said MAWC Resident Manager Michael F. Kukura.

“In designing Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright sought to create a harmonious relationship between architecture and nature,” said Justin Gunther, Vice President and Director of Fallingwater. “He was inspired by the natural features of the woodland landscape for the house’s colors, materials and design motifs, and oriented the building to take advantage of natural light and passive airflows. Installing solar carries forward Wright’s ideals and continues the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s commitment to protect and preserve this beautiful landscape and the architectural principles that make Fallingwater unique.”

“Saint Francis University appreciates the recognition for our educational tiny classroom project,” said Michael Sell, project coordinator, at the university’s Institute for Energy. “Visitors to the mobile power lab, an 8 by 20-foot classroom on wheels, can experience and learn about renewable energy, efficient living, and producing a smaller environmental footprint both inside and out of this innovative project.

Sell continued, “The unit features a 1.68 kW solar array with battery storage and shows the potential for solar energy, even in often cloudy western Pennsylvania. The classroom has generated much interest as it has traveled around the state. We are thankful to the many supporters who have funded the project and for the positive feedback we have received from the community.”

“Getting the public policy of Sustainability and Clean Energy pointed in the right direction is critical, but the work that gets done in the trenches, from day to day, is where the difference is made,” said Edward Johnstonbaugh of Exodus Renewables.

About the Pennsylvania Solar Center 

The PA Solar Center is a 501c3 nonprofit organization with the mission to expand the benefits of solar to all Pennsylvanians. The Center offers technical assistance to non-profit organizations, businesses, and communities to help them go solar, savvy media communications and online resources for all solar stakeholders, and education for decision-makers and advocates about the benefits of robust solar policy. The PA Solar Center provides an online directory of qualified solar developers, a map of notable solar installations, a monthly solar webinar series, and a listing of solar events happening across the state.

Learn more at

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