view from the states
Pennsylvania: A Growing Solar Powerhouse
By MAUREEN MULLIgAN and KIRA COSTANzA
Futures Communications, a lobbying,
and alternative energy
Kira Costanza (kira@
com) is the director
of external relations
at SunPower Builders
com) and executive
director of SunPower
In May 2009, the Sunshine Program, Pennsylvania’s first statewide solar rebate program, opened for busi- ness. At the time, there were fewer than 50 installers
certified to install solar throughout the state. Today, just
more than a year later, the list of qualified contractors totals
more than 500. There are more than 7 megawatts (MW)
of photovoltaic (PV) installations in operation in Pennsylvania and approximately 60 MW or more in the queue.
Incentives have had a major impact on solar project and
market development, as well as on job creation.
Gov. Ed Rendell has been a
strong proponent of renewables,
particularly of solar, throughout his
term. In 2008, he signed the Alternative Energy Investment Fund Act
(Act 1), which provided funding for
the Sunshine Program. Out of the
total $650 million approved, $180
million was dedicated for solar, giving solar a significant priority over
other renewable and advanced energy resources.
Pennsylvania also has an effective
net-metering policy and a fairly aggressive alternative energy portfolio standard (AEPS), passed in 2004. It was
the second state in the nation to allocate a specific percentage of the AEPS
to solar — the solar share. Pennsylvania was also one of the first states to
include solar thermal in its solar share.
However, what started as a slow,
steady ramp-up schedule may be
insufficient for the amount of solar now installed in the
state. By the end of this year, Pennsylvania may find itself
with a low requirement and high supply of solar renewable
energy credits (SRECs). The good news is that a newly
sponsored house bill, H.B. 2045, if passed, will increase
Pennsylvania’s solar share to 3 percent from 0.5 percent.
More importantly however, H.B. 2045 will front-load
some of the new requirement to the first few years of the
existing requirements, providing the correction needed
to help level supply and demand and provide stability to
It is difficult to tell to what extent Pennsylvania utilities
will embrace solar, as most projects in service in Pennsylvania have been developed with federal and state subsidies
and the AEPS requirements are currently low.
However, several utilities are now looking to bank
SRECs. PECO has procured 6 M W toward its upcoming
requirement, and Pennsylvania Power & Light (PPL)
recently opened a $2-per-watt rebate program for its
residential customers. The only barrier to PPL’s pro-
gram is that the rebate is capped at $5,000 and recipients
cannot “double dip” between the PPL rebate and the
SUnPo WER BUil DERS
A residential solar awning installation in Narberth, Pa., offers 3.6-kilowatt capacity using
Sanyo HIT Double translucent modules. The project took advantage of both the federal
tax credit and Pennsylvania’s new Sunshine Program rebate.
24 July/August 2010 SOLAR TODAY solartoday.org
Copyright © 2010 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved. 09
ing its voice heard through stakeholder meetings, active
engagement in policy and the solidification and exponential
growth of trade associations, such as the Pennsylvania Solar
Energy Industries Association and the Solar Alliance.