Bipartisan bill would expand access to solar energy in Pennsylvania

    Rep. Aaron Kaufer is the prime sponsor of legislation to expand access to solar energy in Pennsylvania. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

    A bill backed by a diverse collection of lawmakers — from urban Democrats to rural Central Pennsylvania Republicans — would let homeowners buy into shared solar power projects far away from home.

    The legislation, HB 531, would allow people living in properties unfit for solar — because of shade, direction, or size — to purchase a stake in projects and receive credit for the power on their electric bill.

    “This legislation is about as common sense as it gets,” bill sponsor Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-Luzerne, said.

    Renters, those planning to move soon, and people who can’t afford a full panel installation would be able to buy into solar energy under the bill, he said.

    Lawmakers also said the legislation would help the state’s growing solar economy.

    Nineteen states and the District of Columbia already allow similar community solar projects.

    According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Pennsylvania is 22nd in the nation in installed solar capacity. A little more than 47,000 homes get their energy from solar power, which provides just a quarter of a percent of the state’s total electricity.

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