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Delaware River Port Authority, Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO) Solar Integration

Burns guided the interconnection process and analyzed traction power systems to facilitate installation of 46,600 solar panels across multiple sites, ensuring success for one of the country’s largest transportation-related renewable energy projects.

PATCO is powering the rapid transit system serving Philadelphia and South Jersey with 22 Megawatts (MW) of solar energy. The project supplies more than 50 percent of the annual electricity needs for PATCO operations.

Bi-state agency Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) structured the project through a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with SunPower Corporation. DRPA estimates the project will save $12 million through lower electricity costs, while achieving an environmental benefit equivalent to offsetting the annual carbon emissions of more than 4,000 vehicles.

Burns served as the owner’s representative, overseeing electrical design, construction, and commissioning. Connecting the solar power at multiple locations — four PATCO stations, two interstate bridges, and DRPA’s One Port Center — added challenges unlike any other solar installation.

Burns was retained to ensure the project complied with state and utility requirements, without negatively interfering with PATCO traction power systems. Services included:

  • Coordination with project stakeholders including DRPA, PATCO, SunPower, construction manager Jacobs Engineering, and local utilities.
  • Design review and technical guidance for interconnection of the system with PATCO’s medium-voltage traction power system.
  • Technical review of equipment selections, including ballasted flat-roof mounted, ground-mounted, and solar canopy arrays.
  • Legal reviews and coordination with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, along with regulatory affairs consultant BlueSky Power.
  • Analysis of the substation’s supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system implementation and commissioning.
  • Technical overview throughout the construction process, including coordination with PATCO to ensure right-of-way construction activities had no impact on transit system operations.

The project reached commercial operation in Spring 2022.

Burns is a long-time solutions provider for DRPA/PATCO railway systems and facilities. Current engagements include consulting DRPA on redesign of the 32,000-square-foot Lindenwold Shop and Office facility, renovation of Franklin Square Station, and ADA accessibility for six PATCO stations.


Philadelphia, PA


Delaware River Port Authority

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