Top Ten Benefits of Community Solar in Pennsylvania
By: Anthony Campisi
While it may be a new year, Pennsylvania businesses, families, and local governments are still struggling financially from the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, we need the economic rejuvenation that a vibrant community solar program can bring.
Pennsylvania state lawmakers, led by Rep. Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne) and state Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe), will be reintroducing community solar legislation in the 2021-2022 legislative session. As the legislature gears up to consider this important economic stimulus tool, the leading benefits of community solar should be top of mind for Pennsylvania’s state legislators.
1. Community solar will provide a major economic stimulus to Pennsylvania
Community solar would generate $1.8 billion in economic impact for Pennsylvania, according to a recent Penn State University study. This would come at a time when the commonwealth is seeing massive economic fallout from the pandemic, ranging from struggling small businesses to massive budget gaps, lost wages, and unemployment.
2. Community solar will generate income for farmers and help them keep their land
Farmers who sign leases to install solar panels on unused portions of their land will gain a crucial new revenue source that will help them make ends meet during tough times. That’s why the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau supports community solar legislation.
3. Community solar will create jobs across the commonwealth and get Pennsylvanians back to work
According to the Penn State study, community solar will create 12,000 jobs in 48 counties across the commonwealth. These are high-paying jobs and many would be in the construction trades.
“Pennsylvania is a state with diverse energy resources, and community solar provides an important opportunity to foster good-paying renewable energy jobs,” said Anthony Seiwell, Business Manager for the Laborers' District Council of Eastern Pennsylvania. “These projections of construction jobs and wages resulting from the construction of community solar projects offer an exciting opportunity for union workers and their families. We look forward to working with our partners to move this measure forward through the legislative process as quickly as possible.”
4. Community solar doesn’t raise taxes or require any government funding
At a time when state and local budgets are stretched to the breaking point, community solar is an attractive economic development and job growth tool because it doesn’t require any government funding — the industry just needs Harrisburg to get out of the way. That’s one reason why the Pennsylvania Conservative Energy Forum, a grassroots organization, strongly supports community solar legislation.
5. Community solar projects would boost state and local budgets and power an economic recovery
As governments across Pennsylvania look to balance their budgets during a difficult time, community solar can help. County and municipal governments would see a quick boost of nearly $2 million in annual tax payments, as well as over $20 million in annual tax revenue for the state budget during the multi-year construction phase of community solar projects.
6. Community solar saves consumers money
Community solar provides a unique opportunity to lower energy costs for both families and businesses. Subscribers to community solar installations receive credits on their monthly electric bills for their share of energy generated through the local solar project resulting in a lower bill. Penn State estimates Pennsylvania customers will save over $30 million per year on their electric bills through community solar participation.
7. Community solar will expand consumer choice
Community solar is giving families and businesses a choice in their energy future. These projects provide an opportunity for consumers to access the benefits of solar energy even when they can’t install panels on their own property. This impulse for expanded choice is driving advocates like Lisa Lewis, of Greene County, to lobby their legislators to pass community solar legislation.
8. Community solar enjoys strong bipartisan support
Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly support community solar, across party lines and across the commonwealth. Recent polling, conducted by Susquehanna Polling and Research, shows a stunning 77 percent of voters supporting community solar, with more than 60 percent saying they’d consider subscribing if given the option. Strong support for enabling community solar legislation exists in all corners of Pennsylvania.
9. Community solar will benefit the entire commonwealth
Companies are already gearing up to provide community solar options across Pennsylvania. There are at least 220 community solar projects in 41 counties ready to break ground, pending the passage of legislation in Harrisburg, according to an analysis by the PA Community Solar Economic Alliance, a local industry and advocacy group.
10. Community solar is already available across the country
Community solar has a long and proven track record across the country. Consumers in 20 states, plus Washington, D.C., already have access to community solar and are saving money on this local energy program.
The benefits of community solar for Pennsylvania are ready to be realized once legislation is passed; 2021 must be the year to Let Pennsylvania Shine.