Solar in Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia, PA, located about 80 miles (130 km) southwest of New York City, is the largest city in Pennsylvania and the fifth-most-populous city in the United States. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the population of the city proper was approximately 1.5 million while the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area has a population of 6.1 million and is the country’s fifth-largest metro area. More importantly for those interested in solar in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia was included one of the “Solar America Cities” by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
In 2007 and 2008, the DOE selected 25 major U.S. cities as Solar America Cities, the foundation of DOE’s Solar America Communities program. Through this effort, these cities have been working to accelerate the adoption of solar energy technologies for a cleaner, more secure energy future. These unique federal-local partnerships have enabled DOE to identify barriers to solar energy use in diverse locations and at various stages of market development, and to collaboratively develop solutions to those barriers.
Philadelphia plans to transform the local market for solar power, with the objective of making solar technologies cost-competitive in the short term and long term. The Solar City Partnership will develop a plan to help Philadelphia generate 2.3 MW of solar electricity by 2011 and 57.8 MW by 2021, the city’s proportional share of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s solar installation goal. The city intends to add a large commercial-scale solar installation to its ongoing smaller scale efforts in order to achieve its goals which include the following:
- Develop and adopt a solar implementation plan that is replicable and fully integrated with updated citywide plans and institutional processes for guiding decisions on land use, economic development and infrastructure investment.
- Identify and implement cost-effective tools to overcome commercial and residential solar market barriers in Philadelphia and its partnering communities. This includes development of a “Solar Developer’s Guide to Solar Philadelphia.”
- Prioritize for development and initiate planning for solar energy installations that can cost-effectively achieve the city’s goals. This includes choosing technologies, targeting districts and sites, and creating financial structures that will support the installations.
Philadelphia’s efforts are not isolated to the city. Pennsylvania has invested $665.9 million in renewable energy sources and the Clean Energy Funding Bill allocated $100 million for installations (covering up to 35% of the cost of systems for homes and small businesses).