Renewable Energy Technology Incentives in Pennsylvania
Despite getting most of its energy mix from coal, gas and nuclear, Pennsylvania has introduced an ambitious Renewable Portfolio Standard for having 18% of its electricity delivered by green technology by 2021. At the end of 2014 the state produced just 4% from alternative sources and there is obviously still a long way to go.
A number of incentives have been put in place to promote renewable energy technology in Pennsylvania and some $10 million a year has been invested since the RPS was first introduced in 2004. There have been some notable successes – Montgomery County was the first fully wind powered county in the country and areas such as the Appalachian southwest have great resources for developing further. The state has developed a number of large scale projects including the Armenia Mountain Wind Farm with a capacity of 101 MW and the Mehoopany Wind Farm with a capacity of 140.8 MW.
Pennsylvania has a thriving solar industry with nearly 500 companies providing jobs for over 2,500 workers. There is currently a total capacity of 258 MW installed across the state placing it in the top twenty of states for solar. Some of the larger projects are the Pennsylvania Solar Park at 10 MW and Keystone Solar Project with 6 MW and there are plenty of incentives including solar credits for residential and corporate installations.
With plenty of agricultural land available across the state, anaerobic digesters are becoming part of the energy mix for many farms. Pennsylvania also has a number of large scale hydroelectric facilities including the Muddy Run Pumped Storage Facility in Lancaster that produces over 1,000 MW capacity.
Solar PV Incentives in Pennsylvania
There are good incentives in place for the installation of solar PV beginning with the Federal Tax Rebate of 30%. For commercial and residential installations there is the High Performance Building Incentives Program which can provide grants and loans up to $100,000 depending on the technology chosen. You can also access Solar Renewable Energy Credits for the first five years that your solar array operates, again reducing the total outlay.
Solar PV Case Study in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania allows you to buy your solar panels outright through a loan or savings and to undertake a leasing arrangement with the installing company where you benefit from free solar but hand over the incentives. After applying the high performance building incentive, the cost of a 5 kW installation should be around $16,875 from which you can then subtract the Federal Tax Rebate of 30%. You should expect to pay back any loan within 14 years and achieve a net profit of over $14,000 for the 25 years that the array is expected to last.
Solar Thermal Incentives in Pennsylvania
Solar thermal for heating water has become more popular in recent times as a low cost way of reducing energy bills. There are a number of incentives available including utility run rebates such as the Duquesne Light Company Residential Solar Water Heating Program as well as various other tax breaks for businesses.
Small Hydro Incentives in Pennsylvania
There is great potential for micro hydroelectric to develop in Pennsylvania particularly for remote communities and agricultural areas. The state has a number of large scale power plants that provide a small but vital part of the energy mix for the state. For small hydro there are state grant programs including the Alternative and Clean Energy and the High Performance Building Incentives Program.
Geothermal Incentives in Pennsylvania
As in many other states across the US, geothermal energy production for homes and offices has been growing in popularity. Ground source heat pumps can give a good return on investment if installed in the right properties with sufficient outlying space for the infrastructure. Corporate tax credits are available as are small business grants to install geothermal heat pumps. The major utility companies in Pennsylvania also offer rebates such as the FirstEnergy Residential Energy Efficiency Program.
Biomass Incentives in Pennsylvania
Much of the focus has been on the biofuels market though there is capacity to develop power production. On a smaller scale, options such as wood pellet burning and biomass boilers are on the increase for both residential and corporate purposes. Support comes from a range of loan and grant programs and there is also the PECO Energy (Electric) Non-Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program to take advantage of.
Wind Power Incentives in Pennsylvania
Expanding renewable energy production through wind power has created a lot of jobs in the state and the industry is expected to thrive over the next decade or so. While much of the emphasis has been put on large scale projects, small wind power, particularly for agricultural areas, can bring great benefits, not least providing farmers with additional income. While the cost of installing a wind turbine is quite large, even with rebates and grants such as the Wind and Geothermal Incentives Program, the return on investment is usually worth it.
Compared to other states, Pennsylvania has a pretty comprehensive range of incentives in place designed to promote the uptake of renewable energy technologies. While its RPS of 18% by the end of the decade is fairly ambitious, the solar industry is thriving and there is potential for a range of other technologies to contribute to the mix, including wind, hydro and geothermal.
You can find out more about all the renewable technology incentives available in Pennsylvania through the DSIRE web portal.