Pennsylvania lawmakers introduce a community solar bill


Pennsylvania lawmakers introduced legislation March 24 to enable community solar projects in the Keystone State.

Senate Bill 472 would make it possible for two or more entities to subscribe for electricity generated by a solar photovoltaic system no larger than 5 MW in size.

Electric distribution companies would be compensated for efficiently and reliably integrating the resources into their distribution systems, using cost recovery mechanism and treating payments for grid services as regulatory assets.

The bill also would enable a community solar market to develop through innovative technologies without the need for full retail rate net metering.

Senate Bill 472 would enable homeowners and renters to acquire solar energy from a specific community solar project.

Subscribers would receive a bill credit based on the size of their subscription. If passed, Senate Bill 472 would enable homeowners and renters to acquire solar energy from a specific community solar project. Subscriptions would be portable, meaning that customers could continue to receive credits as long as they remained with the distribution utility’s service territory. The program is voluntary and includes no mandate for participation or request for state funding.

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania executed one of the largest solar commitments by any state government in the country.  Gov. Tom Wolf (D) said the state will power nearly half of the government’s electricity needs through seven new solar energy arrays totaling 191 MW. Lightsource bp will build, own, and operate the solar arrays. The commonwealth’s General Services agency contracted with utility Constellation to secure a 15-year fixed-price supply agreement.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said that 40 states currently have at least one community solar project on-line, with 2,579 MW installed through the third quarter of 2020. Of those states, 19, along with the District of Columbia, have specific policies and programs for community solar. SEIA said that the U.S. community solar market could add as much as 3.6 GW of capacity.

The Pennsylvania bill has 20 co-sponsors and was referred to the Senate’s consumer protection and professional licensure committee for consideration.

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