Op-Ed: Community Solar Is Long Overdue In PA, Lawmakers In Harrisburg Can Fix That

By Pari Kasota and R. Brent Alderfer

The following op-ed was published on

Pennsylvanians embrace America's entrepreneurial spirit, and few know better than Pennsylvanians the potential of a thriving energy sector. 

Pennsylvania oil and coal powered the country through the industrial revolution. Now, we're ready to harness another major energy opportunity - solar, specifically Community Solar, which offers consumer choice, economic growth, job creation, and improved environmental quality.

Community solar is a simple concept.

For the 75 percent of Pennsylvanians who can't install solar on their property - regardless of whether it's because they rent their home, have a roof incompatible with solar, find long-term financing unappealing, or any other reason - community solar offers them the same benefits on their utility bill as traditional panel-on-your-roof solar but from an efficient solar farm located nearby in the community.

Community solar is a way to deliver the economic benefits of solar to everyone regardless of where they live. It allows families and businesses to lower and stabilize their electricity bills, control and forecast their energy bills, and contribute to climate-safe energy.

Beyond bill savings, simply having the option to choose is something most people want.

Solar energy holds tremendous opportunities for rural communities in Pennsylvania.

Many farms such as Spring Hills Farm in Lackawanna County have installed a 10 kW of ground mount solar that allow the farm owners to offset their energy consumption.

Farmers can lease their land to host community solar projects.  Solar farms are now being constructed to enhance soil quality over the life of the solar farm and return it to farming at the end of its useful life. 

Farmers across the nation are pairing compatible uses with solar production--such as bee-friendly pollinator plants--preserving farmland and contributing to farm economy as well as producing clean energy.

So, instead of gravel, pavement, or turf grass, farmers are providing ground cover beneath the solar PV arrays with pollinator plants.

Community solar is not restricted to farmland. All communities can benefit.  Solar can be sited on brown-fields, capped landfills, parking lots, and warehouse rooftops to optimize solar production for any community.

With thousands of local solar jobs, solar is a rising star in Pennsylvania. In 2017, solar jobs grew 20 times faster than the overall state economy.

Community solar projects result in bigger tax revenues, increased job opportunities, more consumer choices, and a cleaner environment.

As economic development professionals look for innovative solutions to spur local growth, allowing community solar investment is a win-win.

Pennsylvania businesses such as Crayola, IKEA, Johnson & Johnson, and many others are already recognizing the triple line benefits that solar offers.

The Commonwealth is ready for community solar. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is currently exploring community solar potential in its Finding Pennsylvania Solar Future Project.

A group of clean energy advocates are also working to enable community solar. And Pennsylvania is not starting from scratch.

Pennsylvania has 361 MW of solar power, enough to power more than 40,000 homes, featuring projects that span agricultural, university, and urban communities alike. 

Pennsylvania-based Community Energy Solar developed the 5 MW Keystone Solar Project in agricultural Lancaster County, the 2 MW Elizabethtown Solar on Elizabethtown College's campus, and the rooftop Temple Solar Project, located in urban North Philadelphia. 

Community solar projects like these can make solar power directly available to customers in their respective communities, and at the same time create local jobs and strengthen local economies.

That's why we're calling for lawmakers in Harrisburg to unlock energy choices through community solar. Commonsense legislation to enable community solar will give more Pennsylvania families - rural, urban, and in-between - that energy freedom.

We are ready for the freedom to choose solar energy. On behalf of our members in Pennsylvania, Vote Solar will be working in Harrisburg to make it a reality. We invite you to join us.

(Photo: 2.6 MW Elizabethtown College Solar Energy Project, Lancaster County.)

Written by Pari Kasotia is the Mid-Atlantic Director for Vote Solar working to promote solar friendly policies in Pennsylvania. R. Brent Alderfer is the CEO of Community Energy Solar, LLC based in Radnor, Pa.


Op-Ed: Community Solar Is Long Overdue In PA, Lawmakers In Harrisburg Can Fix That

Esack: What You Need To Know As PA Politics Heat Up Over Energy Sector Subsidies

Resource Link:

Vote Solar - Pennsylvania

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[Posted: July 16, 2018]


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