House committee unanimously approves Solar for Schools legislation

HARRISBURG, May 23 – The House Consumer Protection, Technology, and Utilities Committee voted unanimously today in support of House Bill1032, state Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler’s Solar for Schools legislation.

Solar for Schools would provide grants to install solar to public k-12 schools, community colleges, and career technical schools across Pennsylvania. The program would fund 50% of the cost of project construction. Federal funds from the Inflation Reduction Act would cover 30- 50% of the remaining installation costs, with school districts responsible for the remaining 0- 20%, plus costs associated with operation and maintenance.

The vote comes on the heels of Fiedler’s tour of solar arrays at various schools across Pennsylvania.

"I've been able to see firsthand the value that solar arrays bring by reducing costs for school districts and taxpayers, limiting our carbon footprint, and creating new jobs,” Fiedler, D-Phila., said. “I am thrilled Solar for Schools passed the committee. This legislation merges labor and environmental priorities to improve our environment and bring new jobs to our commonwealth.”

Committee Chair Robert Matzie, D-Beaver, commended the legislation after voting in favor of the bill.

“Solar for Schools is a solid bill that will help school districts and taxpayers save money,” Matzie said. “As chairman of the committee, I was happy to bring it up for a vote and to vote for it.”

Fiedler said the legislation bridges green and blue industries and has garnered support from a diverse group of stakeholders, including Pennsylvania Building Trades, AFT Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania School Boards Association, and environmental groups.

Rob Bair, president of the Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council, said, “Representative Fiedler’s Solar for Schools legislation will create good, family-sustaining jobs for Pennsylvanians across the commonwealth. Further, the legislation would save both school districts and taxpayers money. It’s a win-win. The PA Building Trades is glad to see this legislation progress through the PA House.”

Katie Blume, political and legislative director of Conservation Voters of PA, said, “HB 1032 is an excellent use of leveraging PA state investment with federal funds from the Inflation Reduction Act with the goal of protecting our environment. This legislation will allow us to create projects that will reduce PA’s emissions, increase resiliency, and build learning opportunities for students. Conservation Voters is happy to support this bill as it leaves committee and heads to the floor.”

School districts will also financially benefit from the legislation, cutting costs and providing a green alternative to traditional forms of electricity. Fiedler said she is hopeful the bill will pass out of the House next month.

“This legislation has bipartisan support thanks to its benefits of creating family-sustaining jobs, saving schools and taxpayers money, and increasing PA’s renewable energy production,” Fiedler said. “I am excited for this legislation to pass through the House and then be sent to the Senate.”