In many parts of Pennsylvania, such as a beautiful drive on Route 322 from Hershey, Pennsylvania to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and then on the Pennsylvania Turnpike itself, you can see the emerging solar industry. Solar systems have sprouted at farm buildings, manufacturers, schools, and homes across the Commonwealth.
In just 3 years, the number of solar systems operating in Pennsylvania has increased 20 times, going from 300 to 6,000. www.energycentral.com/functional/news/news_detail.cfm?did=24150430. Total solar generation capacity in the Commonwealth is 150 megawatts or enough power to fully supply approximately 25,000 homes. Of America's 4,000 megawatts of solar generation, Pennsylvania has about 3.75%.
Pennsylvania is, indeed, more than just shale gas. While gas booms, solar prices are about $3 per watt for an installed solar system, even without the 30% federal solar tax credit, and $2 per watt with it. At those prices, asking a solar company to give you a bid for a solar installation is a smart thing to do.
When you get your solar bid, you may find that solar systems payback investment in 5 to 8 years. That easily beats putting money in a bank to earn low, low interest.
Across the entire PJM grid, that extends from Illinois to New Jersey, the amount of solar power capacity is approaching 1,000 megawatts or about 25% of the nation's solar capacity. That much solar helps to maintain reliability and trims peak power prices paid for by all electricity consumers, while reducing the hours of operation for some of the most expensive, dirtiest fossil fueled peaking plants.
And so the neighborhood solar system is helping to keep your lights on, your electricity bill affordable, and the air clean.