New Figures Show PA Exceeds Its Goals for Solar; Among National Leaders in Solar Projects, Energy Capacity DEP Secretary Credits Investments, Policies Leading to Expansion and Jobs in Promising Industry
Harrisburg - Pennsylvania is now one of the leading states in the nation for clean solar energy, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger said today while highlighting new data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
NREL's latest open photovoltaic survey ranks Pennsylvania third nationally in the number of solar projects operating today and fourth in installed capacity. According to NREL, the state now has 2,434 projects-behind only California and New Jersey-that account for 38.5 megawatts of generating capacity, or enough to power about 5,800 homes.
Hanger noted that because the survey relies on voluntarily submitted information, the state is actually doing much better than NREL's data shows. In reality, there are more than 3,000 projects online statewide that total 40-plus megawatts of capacity.
Regardless, Hanger said, the report shows that Pennsylvania has met its goal of becoming a top-five state for solar - and has done so ahead of schedule.
"When Governor Rendell took office, he said Pennsylvania was going to be a leader in the green economy," said Hanger. "NREL's latest survey shows we've done that and we've done it sooner than many thought was possible. We thought we'd be a top-five state for solar by 2011, but we've done it faster because of the pro-solar-growth, pro-solar-jobs policies and investments we've made.
"In 2004, we passed a portfolio standards law that attracted some of the world's leading renewable energy companies to our state. It also provided the assurance small businesses and entrepreneurs needed to get into the solar business or start their own companies. We also made smart, critical investments in the industry so more projects could get off the drawing board and become a reality. We now have hundreds of companies here doing work in the solar field and thousands of workers meeting the need for this clean form of energy."
The secretary said Pennsylvania now has about 600 solar businesses and another 130 megawatts worth of projects in the pipeline that should be completed by the end of 2011. According to the National Solar Jobs Census, Pennsylvania has 6,700 people working in solar jobs-second to California among all states.
He said Pennsylvania's growth was made possible because of large-scale projects across the state, as well as a growing number of homeowners and small businesses that are choosing to use solar to meet their energy needs.
Last month, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare began installing a three-megawatt system on its northeast regional distribution center in York County that, when finished, will represent the largest rooftop system in North America. In August, Crayola LLC powered up an $11.5 million, 15-acre solar farm that will produce 30 percent of the energy needed to power the company's operations in eastern Pennsylvania. The crayon maker has already announced plans to double the size of the solar system within in the next two years.
Hanger also pointed to the success of Pennsylvania's PA Sunshine Rebate Program, which has enabled more Pennsylvania homeowners and small businesses to lower their energy bills with the help of the sun's power. The $100 million PA Sunshine Program has provided more than $94 million in rebates to fund more than 4,855 solar electric and hot water projects that are either completed or under construction.
"Pennsylvanians are eagerly moving toward solar because they recognize the environmental benefits in the form of cleaner air and water, and the fact that it's a smart move for their pocketbooks, too," said Hanger. "A homeowner or business that installs a solar system today is locking in a fixed price-currently between 12- to 20-cents per kilowatt-hour-for the energy that system will create over the next 25 years. If you pay a utility for your electricity, I'll bet you won't pay in 2035 what you're paying today.
"Solar also makes greater sense because of how sharply the technology has dropped in price recently. The median installed costs for small business and residential PV projects here dropped from about $9 per watt in 2008 to as low as $6 per watt in August; the lowest-cost projects are as much as $1 per watt less than this most recent figure. Large solar projects of one megawatt or more now cost under $4.50 per watt. That's a competitive price and explains why solar is so attractive for so many."
The secretary also noted that solar power emits zero air pollution, which cuts soot, smog, mercury and heat-trapping pollution that can sicken and kill Pennsylvanians. In addition, solar power helps to keep the power grid reliable by providing more power on the hottest days of the year when very high demand can cause brownouts and blackouts.
To view the NREL rankings online, visit openpv.nrel.gov/rankings. For more information on clean energy in Pennsylvania, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us.
Source: Government of Pennsylvania
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