Pennsylvania voters overwhelmingly want the General Assembly to pass legislation authorizing local community solar projects, according to a new poll conducted by Susquehanna Polling and Research.
Nearly 80% of Pennsylvania voters believe the legislature should pass a bill that gives consumers the option to enroll in community solar projects. These projects would allow residents and business owners to sign up to purchase electricity from small, local solar installations, many of which are co-located on nearby farms. Subscribers then receive credit on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced, saving them money.
While 20 other states permit these types of arrangements, Pennsylvania’s utility laws currently block community solar projects.
“These polling results make it clear that Pennsylvanians support community solar regardless of their political affiliation or where they live in the state,” said Leslie Elder, Mid-Atlantic Director for the Coalition for Community Solar Access, a coalition of businesses and non-profits that advocates for consumer choice in energy purchasing. “With this level of bipartisan popularity, the time is now for the General Assembly to advance community solar legislation that would open up new opportunities for Pennsylvania consumers, farmers and businesses.”
The poll of 704 registered voters was conducted between Aug. 26 and Sept. 2 on behalf of the PA Community Solar Economic Alliance, a broad-based coalition working to bring community solar to Pennsylvania. Additional key takeaways from the poll include:
- Support for community solar is bipartisan, with 68% of self-identified Republicans, 85% of Democrats and nearly 80% of Independents supporting the legislation.
- Both rural and urban counties support community solar, with 78% of voters in the Philadelphia suburbs and 82% of voters in Central Pennsylvania “T” counties calling on the legislature to authorize such projects.
- 81% of Pennsylvania voters support more choices in where and how they get their energy and electricity.
- 61% of voters said they would consider enrolling in a community solar project if one was available to them.
- The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2% points.
“This is powerful evidence that most consumers see tangible benefits of community solar, and are willing to ‘put their money where their mouths are’ by telling pollsters they would take action to consider enrolling,” said James Lee of Susquehanna Polling and Research.
HB 531 and SB 705, which are being sponsored by Representative Aaron Kaufer in the state House of Representatives and Senator Mario Scavello in the Senate, respectively, would change utility regulations to permit Pennsylvania businesses and families to sign up for community solar projects if it’s right for them, regardless of their income level or if they own their home. The legislation would not raise taxes.
“Efforts to enact community solar legislation are coming at a time when farmers have been grappling with a depressed farm economy,” said Darrin Youker, director of State Government Affairs for Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, which is a supporter of community solar legislation and a member of the PA Community Solar Economic Alliance. “Community solar will give farmers the chance to have a new source of income, while one day being able to use the land again for agriculture production.”
“The results from this new poll confirm what we’ve been hearing in rural, suburban and urban communities across the Commonwealth: Pennsylvanians want to lower their electric bills and take control of their energy with solar PV,” said Henry McKay, Pennsylvania program director for Solar United Neighbors, a national non-profit organization dedicated to building a grassroots movement that empowers supporters of solar power. “Community solar would allow everyone to enjoy these tangible benefits.”
News item from the PA Community Solar Economic Alliance