Pennsylvania offers $30 million to create solar jobs

Apparently, when Pennsylvania commits to developing an industry, they commit.

Mere weeks after Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 40 into law, he has made $30 million available to businesses that promote the deployment as well as encouraging companies to manufacture solar components in the state.

While the Solar Energy Program (SEP) had always offered the money in the form of loans, Wolf’s announcement adds grants as an option. It has already begun to accept applications.

“The Solar Energy Program is vital in our efforts to make Pennsylvania a leader in clean energy,” Governor Wolf said. “Developing new renewable energy sources including solar is critical to ensuring Pennsylvania has a balanced and diverse energy mix that maintains our position as a major energy producing state.”

Although Pennsylvania has had a nascent solar industry, it has struggled to expand significantly because, among other reasons, its Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC) program was so poorly designed, its practical effect was to suppress the industry by crushing SREC values by allowing out-of-state SRECs to be sold on the state’s market, while preventing Pennsylvania producers to sell SRECs outside of the state.

Wolf fixed that loophole by signing Act 40 into law.

SEP is administered jointly by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) under the direction of the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA).

For solar equipment manufacturing projects, SEP will offer up to $40,000 in loans or $5,000 in grants for every new job created within three years. For energy generation or distribution projects, SEP will offer loans up to $5 million or $3 per watt, whichever is less, and grants up to $1 million or $1.50 per watt, whichever is less.

SEP loans will be repaid over a period not to exceed 22 years for equipment and 15 years for real estate. Applicants must provide matching funds of at least $1 for every $3 of loan funding awarded, and at least $1 for every $1 of grant funding awarded.

Applicants eligible for SEP funding include:

  • Businesses – A corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, limited liability company, business trust or other CFA-approved commercial entity. The term also includes not-for-profit entities.
  • Economic Development Organizations – A nonprofit corporation or association whose purpose is the enhancement of economic conditions in their community.
  • Political Subdivision – A municipality, county, or school district.

SEP will approve the first financial outlays early next year.