With legislators set to return to the capitol in just a few short weeks, the House Consumer Affairs Committee held a hearing yesterday featuring testimony in favor of enabling community solar projects in Pennsylvania. The PA Community Solar Economic Alliance lauded the committee’s attention to HB 1555, highlighting the bill’s ability to generate a $1.8 billion stimulus for the commonwealth’s economy and provide financial relief for farmers, landowners and consumers.
“This hearing showed there is strong bipartisan interest to take action on solar energy,” said Representative Chris Quinn (R-Delaware County) who serves as Secretary of the Consumer Affairs Committee. “Community solar in particular presents an interesting opportunity to leverage private capital to modernize our electric grid and bring cost savings to consumers and businesses.”
Community solar projects are local solar installations to which residents and business owners can choose to subscribe, earning a credit on their electric bill for their portion of power produced. The projects are small and often installed on underutilized parcels of working farmland, providing a steady new income source for farmers who have faced years of ongoing economic struggle.
“Pennsylvania farmers have been at the mercy of low commodity prices and tough markets for years,” said Darrin Youker, director of State Government Affairs for Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, which is a member of the PA Community Solar Economic Alliance. “We’re asking the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to support HB 1555 and move it quickly to create new opportunities for farmers to provide for their families and their local communities through new tax revenues.”
House Bill 1555 would allow over 230 community solar projects to move forward across 48 Pennsylvania counties, including rural, suburban and urban areas. The projects are expected to save Pennsylvanians who subscribe over $30 million annually.
HB 1555 also contains the first-ever prevailing wage requirement included in a Pennsylvania solar bill.
“Yesterday’s hearing was an important step toward passage of a bill that will finally allow Pennsylvanians to take advantage of the economic benefits that community solar can provide and modernize the state’s electric grid using private investment,” said Leslie Elder, Mid-Atlantic Director for Coalition for Community Solar Access. “There is a groundswell of support for community solar. With legislation in both chambers, we look forward to bringing this critical economic development program over the finish line so we can bring cost savings to consumers and income opportunities to farmers.”
News item from the PA Community Solar Economic Alliance