Bipartisan Bill To Authorize Community Solar Energy Projects Being Circulated
Representatives James Santora (R-Delaware), Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne), Donna Bullock (D-Philadelphia) and Peter Schweyer (D-Lehigh) Friday circulated a memo to their colleagues asking them to co-sponsor legislation to authorize community solar energy projects.
“Community solar allows neighbors, businesses, farms, and other community members to directly participate in and receive the benefits from a solar project connected to their local electric distribution company’s grid.
“Participants can subscribe to a portion of an offsite solar project and receive credit on their electricity bill for the power produced, just as if the panels were on their roof.
“This program extends to all Pennsylvania residents and businesses the ability to acquire solar energy from a specific community solar project. It also gives citizens and businesses the choice to participate – there is no mandate for participation or request for state funding.
“Under current law, individuals who are renters, have a shaded roof, live in an apartment building, or lack roof access, are unable to directly participate in Pennsylvania’s growing solar economy.
“This bill simply removes an existing policy barrier and by doing so will allow individuals to participate in a community solar project if they choose. It’s a simple fix that opens a new market sector in the energy industry, allowing for continued innovation.
“Community solar offers many benefits for both participants and the Commonwealth, including--
-- Economic development through private investment and creation of local jobs through the entire solar supply chain including installers, contractors, investors and site preparation.
-- Saving consumers and businesses money on their electricity bills, and benefiting all ratepayers by supplying extra energy to the grid during peak demand on hot days when prices are highest.
-- Using private capital to connect community solar projects to the grid and upgrading the electricity network for the benefit of all consumers
-- Creating a pathway for low and moderate income residents to enjoy the benefits of solar because these projects do not require a large upfront investment.
-- Increasing the amount of clean, pollution-free energy coming onto the grid.
-- Promoting good land use decisions since solar projects no longer need to be on the property of the subscriber. These projects can be located almost anywhere—rooftops, parking lots, brownfields, reclaimed mining lands—and where these projects make the most sense. For example, farmers could more aggressively benefit from the cost savings and extra income stream of solar without having to take farmland out of production. Some ground mounted solar arrays are now being developed as preserves for native plants and pollinators.
-- Community solar projects can be developed by private owners, municipalities and institutions, stimulating the development of true community partnerships.
The memo concluded by saying, “The four of us have different backgrounds and perspectives, but are united in the view that it is time for Pennsylvania join this growing and innovative new market.”
[Posted: July 20, 2018]
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