I have immensely fond memories of Pennsylvania. I am a proud Penn State alumnus, and find the state, with its roots of leadership going all the way back to the American Revolution, an immensely pleasant and progressive state.
Which is why I could never understand why on Earth it couldn’t figure out how to get its Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) program right.
SRECs are a solar incentive that allow utilities to meet state-level solar-electric production requirements by purchasing the credits from homeowners who are producing solar energy on their rooftop.
For every MWh produced by a homeowner, they earn one credit, which they can then sell to the utility at a price that is determined by states’ internal SREC markets.
When programs are properly designed, they are a wonderful way to encourage the development of solar-electricity production. When they are poorly designed, the resulting depression of solar markets can be devastating—and Pennsylvania’s program, until the legislature fixed it in late October, was awful.
What caused the problem was that Pennsylvania’s SREC producers could only sell their SRECs within the state, but states outside Pennsylvania could buy into the Pennsylvania market.
You can see where this is going, right?
Like any other free market, the law of supply and demand kicked in, and SRECs from all over the East Coast flooded the Pennsylvania market, causing the value of the state’s SREC market to plummet from multiple hundreds of dollars to as little as $3.50/MWh this summer.
That meant potential new solar customers, who were depending on SREC prices to offset the cost of installing their systems found themselves unable to take advantage of the incentive in any meaningful way. So even though the Pennsylvania market was aching to grow substantially, it remained suppressed because of this quirk in the law.
Which is why Gov. Tom Wolf signed Act 40 into law, closing the out-of-state loophole, the entire solar industry—and those of us who love it—cheered as madly as if the Nittany Lions had won the national championship.
It took far too long, but I am fully convinced this law will boost SREC prices in Pennsylvania and jump-start a solar market held down for far too long.
Boy, they don’t waste time in Pennsylvania. Coming hot on the heels of Act 40 was yesterday’s announcement that the state is offering $30 million in grants and loans to promote solar deployment and manufacturing in the state. These job-creating moves prove Gov. Wolf understands the power solar has to propel his state into the Solar Century. Well done, Gov. Wolf.
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