Pennsylvania Expands Solar Funding Opportunities

Last week, Gov. Tom Wolf, D-Pa., announced that Pennsylvania’s Solar Energy Program (SEP) guidelines have been updated to include grants in addition to loans. The program is open and accepting applications, offering almost $30 million in funding to promote the use of solar energy in Pennsylvania.

“The Solar Energy Program is vital in our efforts to make Pennsylvania a leader in clean energy,” said Wolf. “Developing new renewable energy sources including solar is critical to ensuring Pennsylvania has a balanced and diverse energy mix that maintains our position as a major energy producing state.”

According to a press release, SEP provides financial assistance in the form of loans and grants 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 Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA).

The updated guidelines expand the program from only offering loans to now offering both loans and grants. For solar equipment manufacturing projects, SEP will offer 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 will offer 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.

Applicants eligible for SEP funding include:

  • Businesses – A corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, limited liability company, business trust or other CFA-approved commercial entity. The term also includes not-for-profit entities.
  • Economic Development Organizations – A nonprofit corporation or association whose purpose is the enhancement of economic conditions in their community.
  • Political Subdivision – A municipality, county, or school district.

The release says SEP is one of several ways that the Wolf administration is promoting solar energy in the state. For example, Wolf also recently signed legislation designed to ensure solar renewable energy credits are produced locally. Known as Act 40, the 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 state. 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. According to the release, this resulted in an oversupply of credits and Pennsylvania consumer dollars going to support solar facilities in other states. The release says the passage of Act 40 will help ensure that Pennsylvania is receiving the environmental and other benefits of solar development within its borders.

The first SEP approvals are expected in early 2018. For more information about the program or to apply for funding, click here.

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