Schweyer, bipartisan group of legislators unveil community solar legislation

HARRISBURG, Feb. 19 – As more and more Pennsylvanians turn to solar energy to power their homes, a bipartisan group of legislators on Tuesday introduced legislation to allow for community solar projects.

State Rep. Peter Schweyer is part of the bipartisan group of lawmakers, which also includes Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-Luzerne, and Rep. David Millard, R-Columbia, to unveil H.B. 531 to open this renewable energy market to even more residents.

“As our environment and economy rapidly change, it is important that we support and sustain our communities,” Schweyer said. “By enabling community solar projects, we give individuals and businesses the opportunity to engage in renewable clean energy opportunities. I’m excited to join my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to advocate for this important bill.”

At this time last year, the number of solar energy system installations in the state had increased 24 percent over the same period in 2017. At nearly the same time, the cost to install large solar farms decreased 11 percent while the cost of rooftop systems decreased 26 percent. Solar is becoming increasing popular and even more cost-effective for consumers.

“All too often, Pennsylvania property owners interested in relying on solar power to meet their energy needs learn their homes are not properly situated to have solar panels on their roofs. I am one of those homeowners,” Kaufer said. “The bill we are introducing today would give such homeowners, and others, the option to join their neighbors in creating community solar projects.”

Under the bill, homeowners, renters and other property owners would be able to join other participants in subscribing to a portion of an offsite solar project and receive credit on their electricity bill for the power that is produced, just as if the panels were on their roof.

“This bill would give residents a choice to take part in greener energy production,” Millard said. “Those who we anticipate taking part in this initiative include renters, who may be prohibited from installing panels on a property, property owners with shaded properties, or homeowners who may not intend to stay at their current property long enough to reap the full financial benefits of a personal solar energy system.”

This bill would also create new and exciting energy markets in the Commonwealth and encourages entrepreneurship. It also opens solar energy systems to low- and moderate-income residents who may otherwise not be able to afford solar energy systems. Nineteen other states and Washing, D.C. have already given their residents the option of taking part in community solar projects.

“As the clean-energy industry grows, we must make sure it is affordable and accessible to all consumers, including renters and low-income households. That is why I am excited to co-sponsor a bipartisan community solar bill that will break down the physical and financial barriers to solar energy,” Bullock said. “Community solar can drive energy equity, reducing exposure to pollution as well as energy costs for all consumers.”