Pennsylvania’s Renewable-Energy Credit Market Surges

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Written By: Jim Greenberg

Pennsylvania’s renewable-energy credits, which peaked at US$350 in 2009 and quickly retreated into a decline, has rapidly reversed course, more than tripling over the last few months.

solar roof panelsSince its inception in 2008, Pennsylvania’s renewable energy credits—an economic incentive to develop clean-energy generation—have largely declined since peaking in 2009. Recently, however, the value of those credits, particularly solar credits, has more than tripled.

“The solar credit market has turned the corner, as have other [renewable-energy credit] markets”, says Ed Johnstonbaugh, an energy-savings and renewable-energy educator at Penn State Extension, Westmoreland.

To meet their compliance obligations under Pennsylvania’s laws, electricity suppliers are mandated to purchase alternative energy, either directly from generators or through renewable-energy credits.

Each megawatt hour (MWh) of power produced by a renewable-energy resource qualifies for 1 renewable-energy credit. For example, a solar alternative-energy credit (SAEC) represents 1 megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity generated by a qualifying photovoltaics (PV) facility. These SAEC credits, in particular, have more than tripled in value. This means that energy generators with about 1 MW of installed capacity (providing about 1,200 credits per year), would now receive $60,000, compared to the 2013 figure of $12,000.

In November 2013, Daylin Leach, a state senator from Pennsylvania, also announced legislation amending the Commonwealth’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS) to increase the amount of renewable energy powering Pennsylvania’s homes and businesses.

The new senate bill requires Pennsylvania electric companies to obtain 15% of their energy from renewable sources by 2023, increasing the percentage of customers who are using alternative energy such as solar and wind. The target almost doubles the Commonwealth’s current requirement of producing 8% of renewable energy by 2020.