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Solar News

Pennsylvania Wants to Bolster Its Solar Credentials


Pennsylvania is trying to pass new legislation that will increase the incentives for solar energy . According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, House Bill (HB) 2405, also known as the Clean Energy and Green Jobs legislation, offers the potential to help create more green jobs and boost the growth and economy of the state's clean energy companies. The bill's primary focus is on progressing coal combustion technologies that reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

"Time is running short in this legislative session to pass this timely energy legislation for Pennsylvania. Due to the success of the federal and state solar incentive programs, the solar industry needs the requirement for utilities and electric generation suppliers to purchase renewable energy be increased to match the supply of projects waiting to be developed while there are still incentives to help bring down the cost," said Maureen Mulligan, a lobbyist for the solar trade associations active in Pennsylvania, in a Market Watch article. 

Companies are trying to persuade lawmakers to pass House Bill 2405 by sharing personal stories and demonstrating the role that tax incentives and state grants are playing in creating new, sustainable jobs and helping homeowners and businesses better control their electricity costs. Several organizations and businesses have signed letters, urging their state legislators to pass HB 2405. Many of Pennsylvania's citizens are in full support of the bill and its prospects, both environmentally and economically.

"We've made valuable progress with the state's alternative energy requirement, the Federal Investment Tax Credit and the state's Sunshine solar grant program," said Kira Costanza of SunPower Builders based in Collegeville, Pennsylvania said in a Get Solar article. "Reducing carbon emissions in an energy economy heavily dependent on fossil fuels take time. House Bill 2405 helps the state with the necessary next steps to do what many neighboring states are doing by boosting their commitments to renewable energy and enabling consumers to generate some of their own electricity."

The bill would also provide a greater, improved role for alternate energy credits to finance renewable energy projects. A solar system earns one Alternate Energy Credit (similar to solar renewable energy credits in other states) for each 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity generated. Those credits can be sold for cash, in some cases in advance based on projected generation to help pay up-front installation costs. The utilities may either generate their own renewable energy or buy these credits to meet their renewable energy goals. If they fall short of these goals, they will have to pay an alternative compliance payment, which would be $450 in 2011, and decline 3 percent annually.

In May, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signed a new solar bill into law that increases the state's ability to achieve its 20 percent renewable electricity mandate by 2022, with 2 percent from solar, with a compliance payment set at $400 through 2014. This month, Delaware is expected to pass legislation that could set the compliance fee at $500 and raise the amount of electricity to be produced from renewable sources to 25% by 2025, with 3.5 percent from solar. Maryland and Delaware are both giving out incentives for designed and installed solar projects by companies in their respective states.

Under the proposed legislation in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania would also follow its neighboring states by restricting projects to those being built in-state and would increase the solar share from 0.5 percent to 3 percent.

Pennsylvania has come a long way with the solar industry. Before the state's Sunshine solar grant program, there were only about 15 certified solar installation companies. Today there are more than 500 and the industry is only growing with time. It is a testament to what extent the solar industry is becoming throughout the Commonwealth.