Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) held initial meetings with business leaders and solar industry experts to kick-start the state’s Finding Pennsylvania’s Solar Future project. The statewide project aims to identify the most strategic and cost-effective options for the commonwealth to expand its solar capacity to 10 percent of its energy demands by 2030.
The state already surpassed its Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard Act’s requirement for utilities to generate .5 percent of their electricity from solar by 2021. As such, Pennsylvania’s net solar capacity still lingers at less than 1 percent of the state’s total power generation. These energy standards, passed in 2004, are no longer sufficient and outdated for the state. An updated clean energy development plan and policy is essential to its grid resiliency and future economic development.
Funded by a $550,000 award from the US Department of Energy’s SunShot Program, the project seeks input from participating working groups representing solar industry advocates, utilities and environmental groups over a 30-month period. At the initial meeting, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, a green-energy service provider, presented a modeling process to evaluate a variety of regulation standards, cost-effective grid integration scenarios and how to transform the current market to ensure the inclusion of low-income customers or those who cannot afford the investment of installing solar.
“In the same way that Pennsylvania is now among national leaders in fossil fuel-based energy,” said DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “We want to lead in solar energy development. This planning process demonstrates our proactive strategic work to position the Commonwealth as a solar energy leader by 2030.”
Pennsylvania has huge potential to emerge as a solar leader in a region traditionally dominated by fossil-fueled generated electricity. The state had nearly 296 megawatts of installed solar, ranking 22nd among states for total solar installed in the Solar Energy Industries Association’s 2016 rankings. Evaluating the best ways to provide customers with incentives like rebates and tax breaks is expected to increase the deployment solar power throughout Pennsylvania. “That’s why it’s so important that all stakeholders, government, industry, utilities, nonprofits, and communities, begin planning now for what comes next, so that markets have the opportunity to plan and respond such that all Pennsylvanians are included in the economic and environmental benefits of solar,” said McDonnell.Tweet