Today, Governor Tom Wolf announced 78 new Solar Energy Program (SEP) project approvals in 22 counties through the Commonwealth Finance Authority (CFA) which will expand solar energy implementation and promote development across Pennsylvania.
“Pennsylvania’s diverse energy portfolio is one of our strongest assets, and expanding the use of solar energy across the commonwealth builds on that strength,” Governor Wolf said. “These projects approved today represent our forward-thinking approach to powering our state, and will provide numerous benefits to the businesses, schools, and community centers receiving the funding – while also benefiting our environment and promoting renewable energy in Pennsylvania.”
The approved projects include the installation of rooftop- or ground-mounted solar photovoltaic power generation facilities that will generate significant amounts of electricity – in some cases, the projects will allow facilities to draw 100 percent of their power from the new solar photovoltaic systems. The total funding for all of the approved projects is just under $30 million.
Authorized by the Alternative Energy Investment Act of 2008, the Solar Energy Program provides financial assistance in the form of grant and loan funds that are used by eligible applicants to promote the generation and use of solar energy and the manufacture or assembly of solar equipment in the commonwealth. The program is administered jointly by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) under the direction of the CFA.
Last year, the Wolf Administration expanded SEP to offer both loans and grants rather than only loans. For solar equipment manufacturing projects, SEP offers 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 offers 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.
Also last year, Governor Wolf strengthened Pennsylvania’s solar sector by signing new legislation known as Act 40. This legislation requires that for a renewable facility to generate credits, the electricity the facility generates must be delivered to an electricity distributor operating within the commonwealth. Prior to Act 40 taking effect, Pennsylvania allowed these credits to be generated anywhere in the PJM region, which stretches from North Carolina to Illinois. This has resulted in a huge supply of credits being available, and – in keeping with the law of supply and demand – has meant that credits in Pennsylvania haven’t had much value.
A list of the SEP projects approved during today’s CFA meeting totaling nearly $30 million can be found highlighted in yellow here. For more information about the CFA or for a list of other CFA-approved projects, visit the DCED website.