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Dive Brief:

  • The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on Tuesday published a draft plan to expand in-state solar resources, with a goal of supplying 10% of the state’s electric retail sales by 2030.
  • The draft, “Finding Pennsylvania’s Solar Future,” includes 15 recommended strategies to meet that goal and estimates 11 GW of solar energy capacity will be needed — a hefty rise from the state’s 300 MW currently installed.
  • A final plan will be published in December; comments are due by Aug. 20. The report notes that its cross-cutting strategies will “dramatically impact both grid scale and distributed generation.”

Dive Insight:

Pennsylvania wants to reduce barriers to developing solar, and has set an aggressive goal given the state’s relatively limited solar capacity.

The proposal includes 15 strategies, but the focus is primarily on five that incorporate distributed solar and utility-scale development:

  • Increase the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) requirements for solar between 4% and 8% by 2030
  • Provide customers access to capital, including provision of loan guarantees
  • Adopt carbon pricing
  • Create uniform policies for siting and land use
  • Consider tax exemptions that encourage solar deployment and assist solar projects in finding project sponsors with tax equity

Along with the final plan, to be published in December, a DEP project group is developing a a similar proposal to support transforming Pennsylvania’s solar marketplace. The “Strategy Support and Market Transformation” report will be published for comment in the fall.

The proposal says “cross-cutting” strategies that would boost distributed and utility-scale solar, including changes to the AEPS and adoption of carbon pricing, “will dramatically impact both grid scale and distributed generation.”

This is not the first time the state has considered how to boost its solar production. Last year Gov. Tom Wolf signed House Bill 118, to change portions of the state’s solar renewable energy credits policy in an effort to help revive prices in the state’s market.

DEP’s new proposal also doubles as a jobs initiative, the agency said. Hitting the 10% target would result in the addition of roughly 30,000 jobs, with median wages between $20/hour and $38/ hour.

Recommended Reading: Pennsylvania PUC – Pennsylvania’s Solar Future Plan

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