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More Solar Power is a Good Deal for Mid-Atlantic Ratepayers

One of solar’s many benefits is that it can deliver power when and where it’s needed most. At scale, that means solar reduces the need for expensive peak power generation, decreases electricity losses in transmission and distribution systems, and lessens the strain on the grid – good cost-saving measures for all ratepayers, not just those who have gone solar.

Just how much economic value solar delivers is specific to the needs, infrastructure and market structure of any given utility territory. And so we worked with local partners to provide some extra insight to what those ratepayer benefits really look like in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Turns out, solar is a pretty great deal . . .

This morning, the Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association (MSEIA) and Pennsylvania Solar Energy Industries Association (PASEIA) released the findings of analysis completed by Clean Power Research. The study found that the total value of local solar power in New Jersey and Pennsylvania is between 26 and 32 cents per kilowatt-hour. For comparison’s sake, that’s two to three times the cost of conventional electricity in those states.

Full text of the report, entitled The Value of Distributed Solar Electric Generation to New Jersey and Pennsylvania, is available here.

These two states are major solar markets in terms of the amount of solar already installed, and both offer significant opportunity for continued clean energy industry growth. New Jersey ranks second in the U.S. in installed solar capacity with plans for continued expansion through 2028. Once one of the nation’s fastest growing solar markets, Pennsylvania has since fallen to eighth place in installed capacity but has the opportunity to get back on track.

Today’s report assesses the value of solar penetration (15% of utility peak load) at six locations: Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Scranton, Philadelphia, Jamesburg, Newark and Atlantic City. The research concluded that by offsetting the need for conventional power, distributed solar power delivers measurable benefits, including:

  • Lower conventional electricity market prices due to reduced overall demand;
  • Valuable price hedge from using a free, renewable fuel rather than variably-priced natural gas;
  • Avoided costs of new transmission and distribution infrastructure to manage electricity delivery from centralized power plants;
  • Reduced need to build, operate and maintain natural gas plants;
  • Reduced outages due to a more reliable, distributed power system;
  • Reduced future costs of mitigating the environmental impacts of coal, natural gas, nuclear, and other generation;
  • Enhanced tax revenues associated with local job creation, which is higher for solar than conventional power generation.

The report shows that steady deployment of solar resources brings clear and measurable benefits to these energy economies – and yet solar markets in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey are both facing barriers to solar growth. As state policymakers and stakeholders work to shape these energy landscapes, we hope they’ll consider these real local benefits, and design policies and programs that create stable opportunities for solar growth. This analysis shows that such policies are justified from an economic standpoint. Along with the proven public health, security and environmental benefits, it’s clear that local solar power development is a win for these states.

Prepared by Clean Power Research, the report was funded by the following organizations: The Reinvestment Fund’s Sustainable Development Fund, Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association, Pennsylvania Solar Energy Industries Association, Advanced Solar Products, SMA Americas, Vote Solar, Renewable Power, and Geoscape Solar.

Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.