Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Removes Barriers to Solar Growth

(April 19, 2018) Harrisburg, Pa. – Today, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) took an important step forward for clean energy, reversing a decision that had allowed out-of-state solar energy projects to count towards in-state credits for renewable and clean energy, thus removing a major barrier that has stalled growth of the Commonwealth’s solar industry.
Pennsylvania, like many surrounding states, has a program that requires a certain amount of electricity generated by clean renewable energy like solar. These programs have provided a useful tool to jumpstart renewable energy industries in states around the country. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania was one of the only states with “open borders,” which meant it allowed solar energy projects from 13 surrounding states and the District of Columbia, to count towards compliance with the program. This greatly decreased the number of solar projects in the state, lowered the value of solar credits, and resulted in Pennsylvania losing solar job growth and industry market share, while other surrounding states saw the industry’s success increase.
Last December, Governor Tom Wolf signed into law a bipartisan bill that would require credited solar projects to be developed and sourced in state. Unfortunately, the PUC Law Bureau originally proposed implementing that bill in a way that would make it almost completely ineffective, further holding back the solar energy sector’s growth in Pennsylvania.  
Today, the five PUC commissioners voted unanimously to support the intent of the legislature, creating increased and better quality opportunities for solar businesses in Pennsylvania.
“PennFuture congratulates the PUC for taking an important step toward leveling the playing field for solar energy in the Commonwealth,” said PennFuture President and CEO Jacquelyn Bonomo. “This decision is a critical first step in our work to ensure that clean energy investments are prioritized and provided the same support fossil fuel technologies have received for well over a century. While Pennsylvania still has much more to do to support renewable energy, it’s positive that an overwhelming bipartisan group of legislators recognized the importance of supporting the state solar industry.”
Around the nation, solar energy is a success story. The Solar Foundation reports: “Solar makes up just under two percent of overall U.S. energy generation, yet it employs twice as many workers as the coal industry, almost five times as many as nuclear power, and nearly as many workers as the natural gas industry.” 
PennFuture is leading the transition to a clean energy economy in Pennsylvania, fighting big polluters with legal muscle, enforcing environmental laws, and supporting legislative policy that protects public health. PennFuture is engaging and educating citizens about the realities of climate change, and giving them the tools needed to influence lawmakers on the issues. Visit www.pennfuture.org for more information.
Stephanie Rex
Director of Communications