Multiple Generations of PA Farming Families Call Upon Lawmakers to Pass Community Solar Legislation
By: Anthony Campisi
Across the commonwealth, constituents are speaking out and urging lawmakers to pass legislation that authorizes the development and use of small-scale, community solar projects.
In this second installment of the PA Community Solar Economic Alliance’s grassroots video series, we meet Tom Reitz, Joshua Nissley, and Maley Lysle, farmers and members of farming families from across Pennsylvania who would benefit from community solar projects. The testimonies featured in this series show that not only does community solar have support from elected officials, The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, and conservative “all of the above” energy advocates, but also from a range of constituents who want the freedom and choice to participate in community solar projects.
Tom Reitz, a retired farmer in Union County, believes that community solar would benefit family farmers, and his farm specifically, by allowing him to lease a portion of his nearly 80-year-old farm (about 30 percent) for solar panels, allowing him to retain ownership. Without the extra revenue that comes from a community solar project, the alternative would be the partial sale or permanent development of Tom’s land—two things he does not want.
“Not only will community solar projects preserve family farmland, it’s preserved without permanent structures,” Tom remarks in his video for the series. “The time is now for community solar projects in Pennsylvania.”
Joshua Nissley, a first-generation farmer in Middletown, Pennsylvania, believes that passing community solar legislation would not only benefit established, 80-year-old farms like Tom’s, but those just starting out as well. Joshua believes that community solar would help him, his farm, and his community by lowering taxes, lowering electric bills, and creating more family-sustaining jobs across the state.
Maley Lysle, the daughter of family farmers in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, believes that being able to lease her family’s land for community solar projects would provide her parents with a steady income and also benefit her community by increasing tax revenue and job growth—something, she notes, that “we desperately need.”
“We need the economic growth, the job stimulus growth, and it’s what everybody wants,” Maley tells lawmakers in her video for the series.
Indeed, around 80 percent of Pennsylvania voters say they want their legislators to pass community solar legislation, according to a survey from Susquehanna Polling and Research. Moreover, 60 percent also said they would subscribe to local, community solar projects if given the opportunity to do so.
Enabling community solar projects in Pennsylvania will provide citizens and businesses the choice to participate in community solar, with absolutely no mandated participation, no increase in taxes, and no requests for government funding.
According to a Penn State analysis, community solar projects are estimated to deliver a more than $1.8 billion economic boost to Pennsylvania, create more than 12,000 jobs throughout the state, greatly benefit farmers and small businesses, and give people a choice when it comes to where they get their energy and how they use their land.
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.