Community Solar Bill Receives Committee Hearing, Nearly $2 Billion in Projected PA Economic Benefits
PA Farm Bureau and industry advocates aligned in support of HB 1555
Media, PA – With legislators set to return to the capitol in just a few short weeks, the House Consumer Affairs Committee held a hearing yesterday featuring testimony in favor of enabling community solar projects in Pennsylvania. The PA Community Solar Economic Alliance lauded the committee’s attention to HB 1555, highlighting the bill’s ability to generate a $1.8 billion stimulus for the commonwealth’s economy and provide financial relief for farmers, landowners, and consumers.
“This hearing showed there is strong bipartisan interest to take action on solar energy” said Representative Chris Quinn (R-Delaware County) who serves as Secretary of the Consumer Affairs Committee. “Community solar in particular presents an interesting opportunity to leverage private capital to modernize our electric grid and bring cost savings to consumers and businesses.”
Community solar projects are local solar installations to which residents and business owners can choose to subscribe, earning a credit on their electric bill for their portion of power produced. The projects are small and often installed on underutilized parcels of working farmland, providing a steady new income source for farmers who have faced years of ongoing economic struggle.
“Pennsylvania farmers have been at the mercy of low commodity prices and tough markets for years,” said Darrin Youker, director of State Government Affairs for Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, which is a member of the PA Community Solar Economic Alliance. “We’re asking the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to support HB 1555 and move it quickly to create new opportunities for farmers to provide for their families and their local communities through new tax revenues.”
House Bill 1555 would allow over 230 community solar projects to move forward across 48 Pennsylvania counties, including rural, suburban and urban areas. The projects are expected to save Pennsylvanians who subscribe over $30 million annually.
HB 1555 also contains the first-ever prevailing wage requirement included in a Pennsylvania solar bill. A Penn State economic study found that community solar projects are projected to create 12,000 total jobs in the commonwealth across various industries, including construction.
Close to 80 percent of Pennsylvanians want the option to participate in community solar projects and 60 percent claim they would subscribe if a project were available to them, according to a recent poll conducted by Susquehanna Polling & Research.
“Yesterday’s hearing was an important step toward passage of a bill that will finally allow Pennsylvanians to take advantage of the economic benefits that community solar can provide and modernize the state’s electric grid using private investment,” said Leslie Elder, Mid-Atlantic Director for Coalition for Community Solar Access. “There is a groundswell of support for community solar. With legislation in both chambers, we look forward to bringing this critical economic development program over the finish line so we can bring cost savings to consumers and income opportunities to farmers.”
About PA Community Solar Economic Alliance
The PA Community Solar Economic Alliance’s mission is to help rebuild Pennsylvania’s economy and rural communities with clean, locally produced community solar. The Alliance is made up of a diverse group of local industry, agriculture and clean energy advocates who are calling on Pennsylvania legislators to pass community solar legislation that would use private investment to boost the commonwealth’s economy and give more energy choice to consumers and businesses. For more information, visit https://www.pa4communitysolar.com/ and follow the group on Facebook.