Solar in Pennsylvania

Bills proposed to aid solar industry
January 22. 2013 9:00AM - Last modified: January 22. 2013 9:38AM
Tim Stuhldreher

The Democratic chairman of the state House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee is introducing two bills aimed at strengthening Pennsylvania's commitment to green energy, particularly solar.

House Bill 100 would increase the amount of electricity the state's utilities must obtain from renewable sources, according to information from the office of state Rep. Gregory Vitali of Delaware County.

Pennsylvania's alternative energy portfolio standard requires 8 percent of utilities' electricity to come from renewable sources by 2021; Vitali's bill would raise that to 15 percent by 2023.

A second bill, House Bill 200, would provide $25 million per year to the PA Sunshine solar program, which gives rebates for small businesses and residences that install solar systems.

Advocates see measures such as H.B.100 and H.B. 200 as important tools for returning the state's solar installation industry to health. Solar installations expanded rapidly in Pennsylvania in the late 2000s, supported by state and federal subsidies, but the exhaustion of the PA Sunshine program's rebate funds and the collapse of the state's market for SRECs have hit the industry hard.

The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry has opposed previous proposals to increase the state's green energy requirements, arguing they raise energy prices and give solar energy unjustified preferential treatment.

Vitali will host a Democratic Policy Committee hearing at 10 a.m. Jan. 29 in Bryn Mawr to discuss the proposed bills.

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