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A Bright Future for Pennsylvania Solar

Pennsylvania is one of the most energy diverse states in the country and going forward, the State would like solar energy to play a bigger part in their energy portfolio. Currently, PA gets its energy (in order of capacity) from nuclear, coal, gas, oil, and a category named “other,” which consists of Water, Solid Waste, Methane, Wood, Solar, biomass, and wind. 

PA is in the top 3 States in the country in terms of overall energy production.

Currently, the State’s solar capacity consists of 420 MW or about 1% of its energy portfolio.  This places Pennsylvania at 22nd in the nation (up from 26th in 2018) in terms of overall solar production.  With just 1% of energy production coming from solar panels, Pennsylvania is still creating a growing and formidable solar market.  The Pennsylvania solar market employees 4,219 and is home to some of the highest profile solar installations in the country.  For example, Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, has its own 2 MW solar installation.  The Lincoln Financial installation is a landmark.   While driving down Rt. 95 through South Philadelphia, you can notice solar panels arranged aesthetically at an unusual 90-degree angle. Other companies in Pennsylvania that have already invested in solar energy include Crayola, 3M, IKEA, and Johnson & Johnson.

Pennsylvania had its humble solar beginnings through a program known as the PA Sunshine Program, now currently closed. 

The program, started in 2009 and accepted applications from homeowners and business owners during specified open enrollment periods.  Back then, the Pennsylvania rebate, coupled with the 30% Solar Tax Credit (ITC), made for a strong ROI and got the State off to a running start.  The rebate program was worth $100,000,000 and reached capacity quickly; the program ended in 2013.   The first enrollment featured a rebate of $2.25/watt!  Over 7,000 of the State’s 24,953 solar installations were possible because of this program.   Most of these systems were residential and small commercial and the State achieved a solid mix in both sectors.  At the closing of the program, $103,782,757 was paid out in the form of solar rebates, and 48% were residential solar installations while 52% were commercial.   At the end of the program, the average rebate paid was $9,790 and the average per watt rebate came out to $1.27.

After an exciting start to the Pennsylvania solar market, the next 6 years until now have been lackluster until recently.   Like many of its neighbors, PA had its own SREC program, but with a particular that caused an oversupply and eventual crash of their market.  In New Jersey, for example, the State’s RPS (Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard) carved out a target of 5.1% solar energy.  Pennsylvania on the other hand carved out .5% and allowed the market to have “open borders.”  This meant that 12 other states could sell energy credits in PA which caused a crash.  In 2017, thankfully, the State passed a law that closed the open border and in turn pumped some life into their dwindling solar market.  Still, today, if you are going solar in New Jersey you can expect an SREC worth $220, while your neighbor just across the Delaware River in Pennsylvania will only get $30 for theirs. 

Going forward, Governor Tom Wolf and others see potential in solar energy.  The Governor’s Office, The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and other stakeholders have completed the published report, “Pennsylvania’s Future Solar Plan.” 

This highlights the potential solar energy has in the State.  The state stands to benefit in terms of Public Health, Economic Growth, Job Opportunities, Energy Stability, and Cleaner Air.   This report is calling for a target of 10% solar energy by 2030.  Although still shy of New Jersey, with a target of 50% renewables by 2030, this is still an incredible start.   Within that target number of 10%, the State will have to adjust their AEPS (Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard) to accommodate this capacity which will likely increased the SREC. 

Green Power Energy currently operates in Eastern Pennsylvania having completed installations in Buckers and Northampton Counties.  Despite the $30 SREC, PA solar installations still achieve an ROI in under 10 years.  Going forward the state will prosper and its rank in the top 25 of the countries “solar states,” should reach the top 10 in the next 11 years as long as the Governor and his Stakeholders have their way.  If you are a PA resident interested in solar energy, contact Green Power Energy today for a free design and financial analysis for your home or business.

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