Pennsylvania Is a Great Place to Install Solar Panels by sadmin

Posted on Monday, January 17th, 2011

Three years ago, Pennsylvania barely had a solar energy market to speak of. Now, the state is on track to become one of the nation’s leaders in clean solar energy. What happened? Two things:

(1) In May 2009, the state launched its Sunshine Solar Rebate Program to encourage homeowners and businesses to install solar energy systems by providing solar rebates for qualifying projects. The program has been a huge success and, thankfully, still has funding available.

(2) Pennsylvania has been hard at work developing a market for things called Solar Alternative Energy Credits — called Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC) in other states, like New Jersey. In brief, homeowners (and businesses) who install a solar energy system can sell the credits associated with the electricity they produce. Because the credits trade at a premium relative to the cost of conventional electricity, system owners can generate enough income to recoup their costs in a reasonable amount of time.

Pennsylvania’s solar-powered progress has of course been helped along by solar incentives at the federal level, namely the 30 percent solar tax credit (for homeowners) and the 30 percent renewable energy grant (for businesses).

Together, government-sponsored programs have helped the Keystone State’s clean energy sector create jobs during a period when few other parts of the state economy were growing. They also helped promote reductions in the installed cost of solar power. Just take a look at the following Pennsylvania solar cost numbers, which are gathered and maintained by the PA Department of Environmental Protection:

As you can see the median, or average, cost of a home solar energy system in Pennsylvania was about $6.00 per watt in December 2010 — well below the national average for 2010, which was probably around $7.00 per watt.

This means that a typical residential system of 5-kilowatts (5,000 watts) would cost about $30,000 — before any incentives were taken into account. Add to the mix a Sunshine solar rebate of $3,750 ($0.75/watt x 5,000 watts) and the 30 percent federal solar tax credit ($7,875), and you’re looking at a net cost of around $18,375 — this for a system that could, by reasonable estimates, cut your monthly bill by $60 and generate $2,500 a year (or more) in Solar Alternative Energy Credit payments. Finally, given recent and impending utility rate hikes in Pennsylvania, you can begin to see why so many PA residents and businesses are increasingly looking to solar power to meet a portion of their electricity needs.

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