Lack of incentives means absence of solar arrays

PENNSYLVANIA - There are not many large solar arrays in Pennsylvania because the state has not provided financial incentives to build them as other states have done, state officials said.

Across the country, increasing the use of solar technology is being driven at the state level, said state Rep. Dante Santoni Jr., a Reading Democrat.

That's one of the reasons Gov. Ed Rendell wants the Legislature to approve $15 million in financial incentives he has proposed for solar technology, said Michael Smith, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

About one quarter of 1 percent of the total energy produced in Pennsylvania is produced by solar technology scattered around the state at residences and businesses, Smith said.

The largest contributor to that amount is a 75-kilowatt solar array at Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical in Spring House, Montgomery County.

Similar projects are more common in other states that provide financial incentives for producing them. For instance, state-distributed financial incentives were part of the motivation behind several solar projects tackled in New Jersey by PPL Utilities Corp., said PPL spokesman Ryan Hill.

Those included: A 500-kilowatt project to help power an aluminum plant in Pennsauken.

A 500-kilowatt project to help power a landfill-gas power system in Pennsauken. A 393-kilowatt project to help power a Macy's store in Jersey City. A 366-kilowatt project to help power a Macy's in Mays Landing. Though PPL has not worked on any similar solar projects in Pennsylvania, the company does buy power from wind farms near Wilkes-Barre and Mahanoy City, Schuylkill County, Hill said.

The company is also making plans to meet Pennsylvania's goal to have every power company produce 18 percent of its power from renewable resources by 2020. "PPL plans to develop $100 million in renewable energy projects in the next five years," Hill said.

"Those are likely solar, biomass, landfill gas and wind projects."


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