Pennsylvania makes plans to meet new RPS initiative

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Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection has announced a new RPS initiative aimed at increasing the state’s amount of deployed solar and job creation.

The plan, dubbed “Pennsylvania’s Solar Future” is a strong starting point for a state that currently generates less than 1 percent of its electricity from solar resources.

The plan itself is not one coherent guideline, but rather an aggregate of 15 recommended strategies. These strategies vary in the means by which solar would be developed, but disappointingly more than half of the strategies eye increasing development in either utility-scale or distributed systems, rather than both.

While the bright side remains that the plan may choose to use a strategy that utilizes both distributed and utility-scale solar, strategies that use both make up less than half of the total strategies contained in the plan. This type of potential one-or-the-other development is eerily similar to what has happened in Arizona, where utilities are more than happy to develop solar through massive projects, yet kick, scream and fight against the expansion of distributed solar in their service areas.

The strategies that do call for a mix of utility-scale and distributed generation outline contemporary steps to achieve the 10% goal. These steps include increasing state utilities’ required solar generation figures from 0.5% to 4-8%, with the caveat that the sourced solar must be from Pennsylvania, establishing loan guarantees to lower interest rates which will further incentivize deployment and encouraging development by evaluating state tax policy to create exemptions for solar.

“States all around us and across the country have recognized that increasing solar energy can be a real economic development driver, in addition to providing tremendous benefits to public health and in addressing climate,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell in a release announcing the plan. “This plan demonstrates that we can pursue Pennsylvania’s solar future in a cost-effective manner that complements our position as an energy leader.”

Whatever comes from this plan will most likely be welcome development in the Keystone state. The state’s Department of Environmental Protection predicts the plan’s implementation to create 60,000 to 100,000 new jobs. The state has already seen a modest rise in development, ranking 22nd in terms of total installed capacity by SEIA at 386 MW, which is up from 2017’s 27th-place ranking.

A full overview of the plan as well as public comments and the original draft is available here.

The headline and lead of this article were edited shortly after publication.