Legislative action in Harrisburg, PA is slowing progress on more than 200 community solar projects. According to an analysis by the PA Community Solar Economic Alliance (CSEA), a local advocacy group, the projects are spread across 41 counties across the state and would provide power to roughly 250,000 homes and businesses.
The advocacy group pinpointed 220 community solar arrays that would give residents access to solar electricity. The standstill on these developments comes from the state’s utility laws, which prevents community solar installations from being built. That legislature is putting a stop on more than a dozen counties with at least five programs ready to come online. Those counties include Berks, Chester, Dauphin, Erie, Lancaster, Lycoming, Monroe, and Westmoreland.
Leslie Elder, mid-Atlantic director for CCSA, a business and non-profit coalition, states that the community solar programs would benefit the state, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic. Elder continued, stating that Pennsylvania’s General Assembly must take action to remove the restrictions preventing community solar programs from advancing. Along with helping residents, Elder explains that such projects will bring in tax revenue without raising taxes.
Currently, Rep. Aaron Kaufer and Senator Mario Scavello are sponsoring HB531 and SB705. These pieces of legislature would open up Pennsylvania utility restrictions and allow community solar projects. The law would disregard the income level when it comes to subscribing to these solar projects.
The CSEA points out that community solar projects could work with local farming operations. Specifically, crops could be planted around and under solar panels, allowing the technology to be built without hindering production. According to the Alliance’s data, companies are investing in the ground, specifically where projects are planned for small agricultural parcels.
With looser restrictions, residents of Pennsylvania would be able to partake in solar generation. Subscribers to a community solar program would also receive a credit on their monthly utility bills.