According to a new study conducted by Penn State University, Pennsylvania could generate approximately $1.8 billion in revenue and create over 11,000 jobs by introducing new community solar facilities. Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences’ Center for Economic and Community Development performed the study by analyzing more than 200 community solar projects across 48 Pennsylvania counties. The projects are designed to deliver solar power to underserved communities and local businesses but will only do so if proposed legislation passes the General Assembly.
Penn State found that, once the 235 new community solar facilities are operational, they will produce more than $83 million in economic impact. They will also provide over 500 full-time jobs and bring in $574,260 in real property tax collections per year across all 48 counties.
According to Tim Kesley, the report’s author and member of the Center for Economic and Community Development, community solar construction would provide Pennsylvania with economic opportunities that will benefit residents of all counties across the state. As he explains, the projects won’t be centralized to just one county. They’ll spread across the state to deliver sizable benefits to both the municipalities and residents.
The study dug into which sectors would benefit most from community solar and found that hospitality, healthcare, and construction were at the top of the list. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, these were among the hardest-hit industries nationwide. The perks could help restore losses sustained by these industries throughout Pennsylvania.
Currently, there is legislation pending in the House of Representatives and Senate which is holding up progress on new community solar facilities. These laws could allow the state to roll out new projects that, as Penn State determined, would greatly benefit both local communities and the municipalities. HB531 and SB705 were sponsored by Representative Aaron Kaufer and Senator Mario Scavello and were written to remove red tape that limited the ability to create community solar programs.
The projects planned throughout Pennsylvania are expected to generate 1,000-megawatts of energy, potentially saving customers an estimated $30 million annually.