Pennsylvania Poised to Open the Doors to Community Solar Projects

Published: October 12, 2020

Parallel bills in both the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate would open the doors to community solar projects in the Commonwealth. If passed, community solar projects will no longer be prohibited by utility law and developers can begin siting and development.

Community-scale solar developments are mid-size projects—bigger than residential rooftop arrays, but smaller than utility scale solar development—that can provide electrical power to subscribers through a voluntary program. Current Pennsylvania utility law does not allow competition and, therefore, does not permit community solar programs. That may change soon.

Pennsylvania HB531 and SB705 would change utility law to permit Pennsylvania businesses and families to sign up for community solar projects, regardless of personal income or homeownership. The bills feature a “bill credit” where the subscribers of the community solar project would get a credit on their retail electricity bills for the power generated by the project. Though the House and Senate bills were introduced at the beginning of the session in 2019, there has been a recent bipartisan push toward passage.

If HB531 and SB705 are signed into law, Pennsylvania will be open for business for community solar projects. Developers will find that the permitting process in the Commonwealth is very local—even though these projects are allowed by state law, siting and land use regulations are set at the county or municipal level.

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC’s Alternative and Renewable Energy Team is here and ready to assist developers with all aspects of community solar projects, including local land use, zoning, land title certification and management and project finance.

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