Our Perspectives on the Latest Issues
On Thursday, March 2, 115 stakeholders met in Harrisburg for the kick-off of “Finding Pennsylvania’s Solar Future,” a 30-month project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to explore pathways to increasing solar generation to 10 percent of sales by 2030.
This target will require growing our solar generation capacity by about 30 percent per year. That is ambitious, but achievable. Nationwide, solar generation has seen 60 percent year-over-year growth for the last decade.
Finding our solar future not only means a cleaner and healthier environment for us and our children, leadership in clean renewable generation also means jobs for Pennsylvanians. We currently rank 22nd in the nation with a little more than 3,000 solar jobs. While this is a start, there is no reason why we can’t be in the top ten. Massachusetts, for example, has about half of the population of Pennsylvania, but still has more than 15,000 solar jobs.
While it’s no surprise many of the stakeholders are solar industry professionals and clean energy advocates, it is a much more diverse group. As solar power becomes more and more affordable, both opportunities and challenges arise. This has led stakeholders representing electric utilities, our power grid, academia, the financial sector, federal, state, and local government, and interested citizens to coalesce around the Solar Future Project to help chart our path.
At the first meeting, the stakeholders were given the opportunity to join workgroups that best fit their interests. These workgroups include “regulations and ratemaking,” “markets and business models,” and “operations and interconnection.” The first task for these workgroups will be to help finalize a baseline scenario for our modeling and then to begin the process of developing the pathways to our goal. While many of the same issues will be discussed in each group, they each have a unique and valuable perspective.
The next meeting will be held in the Pittsburgh area on June 8 (venue TBA). After reviewing the baseline scenario, we will begin to look at the “Alpha Scenario,” which will set the framework for future modeling.
It’s not too late to get involved. Information about this meeting will be posted at dep.pa.gov/pasolarfuture or you can email RA-EPPASOLARFUTURE@pa.gov and request to be added to the mailing list or the lists for any of the workgroups.