The state Department of Environmental Protection believes the future of solar in Pennsylvania is bright.
The U.S. Department of Energy gave the state a $550,000 grant to put together a plan for the future of solar energy.
Planners say we’re falling behind other states on solar progress and that if we step it up, the state’s economy would reap big benefits.
“Solar is something that’s in everyone’s community,” said David Althoff, principal investigator at DEP. “It’s on people’s homes. It’s at their schools. It’s at people’s work at times.”
State officials released a draft of the Solar Future Plan. The goal is to have 10 percent of Pennsylvania’s electricity generated by solar power by 2030.
“It describes an opportunity to have similar discussion points with community leaders, with decision-makers and folks who can enable more solar to be deployed,” said Althoff.
The extensive plan includes 15 strategies for solar farms and homes, and outlines potential regulatory changes and financial incentives. But nothing is free.
Althoff says those who opt for change would initially pay 1.5 percent more on energy every year.
“Those costs are overcome by economic development, jobs, environmental benefits, health benefits,” said Althoff.
About 4,700 people in Pennsylvania currently work in the solar energy industry. The department says that if the proposal goes as planned, it hopes to add 30,000 jobs by 2030.
“These are good-paying jobs, jobs that are approximately $30 an hour,” said Althoff.
Five-hundred stakeholders teamed up to put together a recipe for solar success, including the Energy Association of Pennsylvania.
“There’s some things we agree with and some things we don’t,” said Terry Fitzpatrick, president and CEO of the Energy Association of Pennsylvania.
Fitzpatrick says the plan may raise questions about policy for how the state gathers energy.
“There are a whole lot of things that would need to happen and fall in place to achieve 10 percent solar by 2030. You would need some changes in law to essentially mandate this much solar energy,” he said.
To view the DEPs full plan, click here.
To give your input on the plan, click here.