California leads the nation in clean energy according to a new report published by Clean Edge, a market research firm focused on the clean-tech industry. The annual report looks at 70 different factors related to technology, policy and capital investments. Pennsylvania does not even make the top 20, instead it ranks right in the middle at 24. Of a total of 100 points, Pennsylvania gets a 40.1.
When it comes to solar panel installations on the east coast, the hotbed of new sunsoaking power is New Jersey, which scores a little bit higher than Pennsylvania and ranks in the top 20. But the solar industry across the river in Pennsylvania is crumbling.
Solar energy development depends heavily on goverment incentives such as rebates, tax breaks and a tradable commodity knowns as SREC’s. SREC stands for solar renewable energy certificates. If a homeowner, or business, installs solar panels and contributes to the electrical grid, it gets credit for that production in the form of an SREC. Government regulations mandate public utilities use a certain amount of alternative energy. So the homeowner could sell that SREC on the open market to a utility company that needs a diversified energy portfolio.
Sales of those certificates is one way to recoup the high costs of installing solar power. But Pennsylvania solar incentives have created a glut of SREC’s sending the price down from a peak of about $300 a certificate to about $21 today.
State Rep. Chris Ross, a Republican from Chester County, has introduced a bill to increase the number of SREC’s utilities are required to buy, and mandate they purchase those credits from Pennsylvania sources.
But the bill is opposed by the Corbett Administration and the natural gas industry, and is currently stuck in committee.