Steadily more solar energy has been installed by Pennsylvania homeowners and businesses due to declining costs plus strong federal policies combined with modest state incentives. The signs are that 2021 will be a greatly improved year for renewable energy and especially solar power in Pennsylvania, where there is increasing activity from private owners, a huge announcement from the governor’s office, and growing demand for continued policy changes.
In late March the governor announced a 191-megawatt solar energy plan which is intended to supply approximately half of the state government’s electricity needs as early as 2023. This plan – labeled Pennsylvania PULSE (Project to Utilize Light and Solar Energy) – is a cornerstone of the GreenGov Initiative, one of several efforts from the administration to bolster clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
According to a spokesperson, there will be big savings due to the average five cents per kilowatt-hour negotiated, locked-in, long-term buy price. This GreenGov Initiative overall targets obtaining at least 40% of Pennsylvania’s electricity from clean energy generated in state.
To complement these executive actions, groups such as Renewables Work for PA (RW4PA) advocate for increasing renewable energy goals and defining the path to achieve those goals. RW4PA requests amending the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS) – a legislative act from 2004 enacted to provide economic development opportunities by increasing the mix of alternative electricity generation in Pennsylvania – in order to increase the solar energy specific goals to 5.5% of the total by 2026 and 10% by 2030.
Their strategy includes benefits via valuable land leases for farmers, which as a group in the state have suffered significant downturns and bankruptcies in recent years.
As modeled, an amended AEPS could also add as many as approximately 100,000 new, well-paying jobs while adding up to $1.6 billion in net economic benefit.
Nearly as important, solar energy in Pennsylvania, no longer rare nor unaffordable, is becoming more mainstream. In 2020 the combination of private and public solar investment and capacity additions made PA solar growth consistent with other states in the region which have longer histories of incentives.
This growing popularity in both installations and policies helps realtors and home appraisers recognize the value of solar, enhancing sale prices for solar properties.
Best of all, the federal solar tax credit was extended and remains at 26%.