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Economy & Business

Solar Energy Hits Milestone in PA

There are now more than 100 Megawatts of installed solar power capacity in Pennsylvania according to a recent report from regional transmission organization PJM Interconnect. That is up from three megawatts four years ago.

"The solar energy industry in Pennsylvania creates a lot of jobs," said PennFuture Energy Center Director, Christina Simeone, "We have estimated that Pennsylvania has the second largest amount of solar energy jobs in the nation, second only to California."

PennFuture estimates there are 6,700 solar jobs in PA and more than 600 solar energy related businesses. Simeone said there is enough solar power capacity in PA to power 12,600 homes.

"We have over 4,000 solar installation… that range from large utility scale, that are several megawatts, to smaller residential scale," said Simeone. Most of them are small-scale installations.

The milestone means the state has already met the solar energy goals set out by the Ed Rendell administration for 2013. PennFuture is calling for higher standards to be enacted by the state legislature in an effort to encourage future growth. Simeone said pro-solar government policy is key to growing the industry.

"The cost of solar energy is coming down and the price of electricity is going up however… whether there is a federal tax incentive or if there is an alternative energy portfolio standard requirement such as we have in Pennsylvania, that definitely effects project economic and payback periods," said Simeone.

The bulk of the solar energy capacity in Pennsylvania is installed in the Southeastern corner of the state but there are several solar research and manufacturing efforts underway in the Pittsburgh area, including projects at General Electric and Flabeg.