Pennsylvania lawmakers introduce bipartisan community solar legislation

Pennsylvania has joined a growing list of states across the country to introduce legislation designed to enable the development of community solar projects, which will expand consumer access to affordable clean energy and increase jobs in the state’s new energy economy. Leading solar advocacy organizations, Vote Solar, the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) applaud the bipartisan legislation, which is sponsored by Rep. Aaron D. Kaufer, Rep. Donna Bullock, Rep. Peter Schweyer and Rep. David R. Millard.

Solar has quickly become one of America’s fastest growing and lowest cost energy sources. Currently, only a small percentage of Pennsylvanians have access to solar because they rent, live in multi-tenant buildings or live in homes that are unable to host a solar system. If approved, HB531 would give more Pennsylvanians a way to go solar by participating in a community solar installation located somewhere else in their community and receiving a credit on their utility bill for their share of the power produced.

“By clearing the way more participation and investment in clean energy infrastructure, this community solar bill will also create good local jobs that can’t be outsourced,” added Marta Tomic, community solar program director for Vote Solar. “We applaud the bill sponsors for coming together to expand solar opportunity in Pennsylvania today and build a brighter future for our children and grandchildren.”

“Community solar is a critical policy that opens access to clean energy to all,” said Jessica Ennis, legislative director for climate and energy at Earthjustice. “Thank you to the bill sponsors for your leadership. We urge the General Assembly to move this legislation and expand the benefits of solar energy to all Pennsylvanians.”

“Between the plummeting costs of solar over the last decade and pent up customer demand for access to clean energy, now is the perfect time to enact community solar legislation in Pennsylvania” said Jeff Cramer, executive director for the Coalition for Community Solar Access. “If passed, HB531 would provide families and businesses the opportunity to access all of the financial and environmental benefits solar provides rural and urban communities alike.”

“This bipartisan legislation has the potential to greatly expand solar options for families and businesses throughout the Commonwealth, while boosting jobs and economic investment,” said Sean Gallagher, SEIA’s VP of state affairs. “Pennsylvania should be one of the leading solar markets in the nation. We urge the General Assembly to pass this bill, allowing this new chapter in Pennsylvania’s clean energy future to begin.”

Vote Solar analyzed the potential economic benefits to Pennsylvania associated with the passage of a community solar policy. Vote Solar used the Jobs and Economic Impact (JEDI) Model developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to reasonably estimate the employment, earnings and economic impacts from the construction and operation of these community solar energy facilities. The JEDI model estimates that based on the development of 500 MW of new community solar development, Pennsylvania could see significant economic development growth, including:

  • A 26% increase in solar jobs, including 1053 sustained full-time jobs during the first five years
  • $706.4 million in local economic benefits, excluding local tax revenues
  • 361.6 million in earnings for those Pennsylvanians employed; approximately $33/hour

Today, 19 states and the District of Columbia allow community solar programs, creating thousands of jobs and spurring local economic investments in those states.

News item from the Coalition for Community Solar Access

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