New Poll on Community Solar Shows Overwhelming Support in Committee Chairman’s District - Pennsylvania Conservative Energy Forum
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New Poll on Community Solar Shows Overwhelming Support in Committee Chairman’s District

Rep. Brad Roae (R-Crawford, Erie) chairs the PA House Consumer Affairs Committee, where Community Solar Legislation awaits a Vote


March 4, 2020 Contact: Chad Forcey C: (717) 645-9055

Meadville, PA – A new poll commissioned by the Pennsylvania Conservative Energy Forum (PennCEF) found that 81% of PA House Consumer Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Brad Roae’s (R-Crawford, Erie) constituents favor Community Solar legislation – HB 531— currently before the Committee. The legislation has been pending Committee action since its introduction in early 2019, and was also introduced in the 2017-2018 legislative session, without action. “Community solar legislation cuts red tape and opens up new markets for solar energy on farms, residential properties and businesses,” noted PennCEF Executive Director Chad Forcey. “House Bill 531 will grow our economy, as it allows multiple farmers, business owners or residents to band together and build a solar project on a single property, and operate it jointly. This allows for maximum financing power, and makes the necessary loans and accessibility for this kind of development a truly viable option.”

The bill, introduced by Rep. Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne) and Donna Bullock (D-Philadelphia) and co-sponsored by more than 80 Republicans and Democrats in the House, also enjoys the co-sponsorship of every Democrat and all Republicans (minus one) on the House Consumer Affairs Committee. A broad coalition of Pennsylvania energy, agriculture and conservation groups are backing the bill as well.

When a farmer, business owner or resident goes solar, they reap the benefits of on-site generation: both in reduced monthly energy costs, and in the form of credits back from the sale of unused electricity to the grid, under Pennsylvania’s net metering program. This is of particular importance in Pennsylvania’s agricultural sector.

The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau supports the bill, as it would allow multiple farmers to build a solar project on one farm, typically the farm in the community that is most suitable for solar energy production. Farms with optimum rooftop coverage, or otherwise unusable ridgelines, are excellent candidates for solar development – but not every farm has the space. Forcey noted that in many cases, these farms have abundant land and opportunity, but not enough access to sufficient capital to go solar. “Farmers want to develop the energy resources that allow them to harvest the sun for electricity, as they harvest their crops for food and fiber. But in the fight to keep their land, they are often outgunned by market uncertainty and diminished food prices. HB 531 would give them a new tool to keep valuable farmland in the family for generations to come, by going solar.”

Voters in Chairman Rep. Brad Roae’s district also demonstrated their majority support for “all of the above” on energy. The ethic of energy diversity valued by proponents of “all of the above” is one of free markets, and open competition. The fact that the voters of House District 6 — Rep. Roae’s district in Crawford and Erie Counties — support solar as a part of “all of the above” demonstrates the promise of new technology in a growing economy.

“$2 billion in new investments are poised to flow into Pennsylvania, if HB 531 becomes law,” noted Dr. John Storey, Harrisburg Director for PennCEF. “The economic growth and wealth creation that this investment will bring is fantastic for all of our citizens, including those who live in House District 6. We support their economic freedom, and ask Rep. Roae to bring HB 531 up for a vote soon, in his Committee.”

Current state regulation does not allow for community solar projects. HB 531 would open up the new community solar market, currently closed to Pennsylvania citizens. An infographic two-page PDF has been prepared for this press release, and is available upon request from PennCEF.

(Public Opinion Strategies conducted the poll in the 6th House District of Pennsylvania. The survey was completed February 15-17, 2020, among 300 likely voters, including 150 cell phone respondents, and has a margin of error of +5.66%. Glen Bolger was the principal researcher on the project. Jared Beard was the project director, and Carson Nicholas provided analytical support. Public Opinion Strategies can be reached at (703) 836-7655.)

The Pennsylvania Conservative Energy Forum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational foundation committed to clean and renewable energy and energy diversity in the Commonwealth.

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