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Finding Pennsylvania's Solar Future

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Welcome to the dawn of Pennsylvania’s solar energy future.

Clean, renewable solar energy is vital to economic growth, environmental protection, and electrical grid resiliency in Pennsylvania. Although solar photovoltaic installations are increasing in the state, solar currently produces less than 1 percent of our net electricity generation. Finding Pennsylvania’s Solar Future aims to increase that by identifying Tomorrow’s Solar Development and Investment Strategies.

Finding Pennsylvania’s Solar Future is a 2017-2019 statewide planning project being led by the DEP Energy Programs Office (EPO) to equip Pennsylvania to produce more solar energy by 2030.

We’re funded by a $550,000 award from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Program.

Finding Pennsylvania's Solar Future Draft Plan Released; Public Review Invited

Since the Finding Pennsylvania’s Solar Future planning project began in January 2017, the project group has completed a modeling process that reflects the knowledge and perspectives of over 500 expert stakeholders statewide, provided through public meetings, webinars, and working group discussions.

The Finding Pennsylvania’s Solar Future draft plan was released July 7, 2018.  We welcome everyone to review the plan and share their comments on our eComment website.

The comment period closes at 11:59 p.m. on August 20, 2018.

The group set a target of 10 percent retail electric sales from in-state solar energy sources by 2030. This target was selected as a level that could be achievable but would also challenge the business-as-usual model and allow for the development of a variety of strategies that could be pursued.

To meet this goal, Pennsylvania must install about 11 gigawatts of solar energy, a significant increase from the roughly 300 megawatts currently installed in the state.

Five main strategies, incorporating both decentralized approaches (e.g., solar panels on homes) and larger, utility-grid-scale development, were analyzed:

Increase the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard requirements for solar to 4-8 percent by 2030;

  • Provide customers access to capital, including provision of loan guarantees;
  • Adopt carbon pricing;
  • Create uniform policies for siting and land use;
  • Consider tax exemptions that encourage solar deployment and assist solar projects in finding project sponsors with tax equity.

Ten other strategies focusing on increasing either small, decentralized projects or grid-scale solar projects in Pennsylvania are also detailed.

Please review the Finding Pennsylvania’s Solar Future draft plan and the July 10 press release, to learn more about the exciting vision of increased solar energy development in Pennsylvania. 

Our Goal

EPO has identified an initial objective of increasing to 10% the amount of in-state electricity sales that come from in-state solar energy generation. This is a starting point—project participants will determine the final amount.

The goal of Finding Pennsylvania’s Solar Future is to create a shared vision statewide for the most effective ways Pennsylvania can reach its objective of 10% of in-state electricity sales generated by in-state solar energy.

Project Participants across the Commonwealth

Pennsylvanians with expertise in business, state and local government, the solar energy market, utilities, regional transmission, regulation, academia, environmental advocacy, and consumer advocacy are participating in project working groups, sharing their different viewpoints on solar energy. Meetings are coordinated by PennFuture in partnership with EPO.

Process

The working groups are engaging in a modeling process to envision and predict the outcomes of possible specific approaches to increasing deployment of solar energy systems and incentivizing market transformation in Pennsylvania.

The modeling process, which is led by the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, is examining:

  • Regulation – How can Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (based on Act 213 of 2004) be modified to support more forward-looking objectives than the current requirement that solar photovoltaic energy provide .5 percent of Pennsylvania’s net electricity generation by 2021?
  • Operations and systems — How to integrate solar into the current grid cost-effectively.
  • Market transformation via incentives and business models — This will include provisions to ensure that low-income consumers and other traditionally underrepresented groups aren’t excluded from the benefits of solar.

Consensus will be reached on the ideal approaches that form the best solar strategy for Pennsylvania.

Planned Results

  1. Pennsylvania’s Solar Future Plan — A draft plan will be published for public comment in 12 months. The final plan will be published in 18 months for use by policy makers, regulators, industry, investors, and consumers.
  2. Pennsylvania’s Solar Future Implementation Report — This will provide directives on how the plan can be implemented. A draft report will be published for public comment in 24 months, with the final report published in 30 months.

Progress updates and project information will be shared here. Stay tuned for more on Pennsylvania’s solar future!

Have questions? Want to get involved? Contact us

Sun Shot Solar Future Logos Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office