Pennsylvania has a history of innovation and forward-thinking ideas. It was the first state to put its website URL on its license plate. It’s home of the first baseball stadium, built in 1909. The first automobile service station went up in Pittsburgh in 1913. And, in 1946 Philadelphia became home to the first computer. The state is not quite leading the charge on solar the way it has in so many other fields. But it’s not far behind either.
Pennsylvania offers home and business owners as well as non-profits and government properties incentives and rebates for installing alternative energy, including photovoltaics, solar thermal, wind turbines and geothermal systems. In 2008, the state fueled its renewable energy program when Gov. Ed Rendell (D) signed a law creating the commonwealth’s $650 million Alternative Energy Investment Fund. This legislation broadly increased funding for projects of all sizes and included an additional $16 million Alternative Fuels Investment Fund. Large sums are reserved to help home and property owners invest in energy efficiency – $237.5 million. And the state invests another $428.4 million in developing alternative energy and creating green jobs.
A fair amount of that money – $100 million – directly benefits homeowners and small businesses through the Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar Program, which provides rebates to help subsidize the cost of installing PV arrays and solar thermal systems. What’s great about the programs is that they’re not mutually exclusive, so if you get a state grant or low-interest-rate loan to help you renovate your building for energy efficiency, you can still qualify for the solar rebate program. All state incentives are offered on a first-come-first serve basis, and the programs are incredibly popular. Some funding is drying up years in advance of expectations.
Incentives are offered at the state and local level and by individual utility companies. Under different legislation, utilities in Pennsylvania are required to purchase power produced by independent solar and other renewable energy providers. The state also renewed its residential and business solar tax credit programs through Dec. 31, 2016. The program allows a 30 percent investment tax credit for each installed system.
Pennsylvania benefits from being centrally located in what is a hotbed of solar activity. Neighboring New Jersey, Maryland, and New York are currently three states in the top 10 for solar activity in the US. You will find many qualified solar installers working in most areas of the state that also work in these other states and vice versa.