Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sun setting on solar industry in PA? Who's to blame?



Solar energy installers in Pennsylvania say their alternative energy businesses and jobs are in danger of failing and some are putting the blame on Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

The Associated Press reports:

The Pennsylvania Sunshine program, passed in 2008, provided $100 million in solar rebates to homeowners and businesses to install such systems. That led to a boom, but the program has only a few millions dollars left, and the state has no plans to renew it.
"Some firms have moved to Ohio already, and we are considering that. By springtime we're going to be looking at layoffs, or have to open another location in another state," said Joe Morinville, the owner of Energy Independent Solutions in McKee's Rocks.
He said some of his competitors have already left Pennsylvania for states that are continuing to support for the industry.
Karen Foltz, a spokeswoman for Pittsburgh-based Vox Energy Solutions, said the current climate for solar businesses in the state is hardly welcoming.
"People are losing their jobs," said Foltz.

One environmental group puts the blame on the governor.

"He is so against renewable energy, it's a crime," says Sharon Pillar, a solar project manager for the environmental group PennFuture. She says she believes Corbett is "100% backed" by Marcellus Shale companies who see solar energy as a competitor.

Pillar said that in 2005, Pennsylvania was a national leader in legislation supporting the solar industry, but has now fallen far behind neighboring states such as New Jersey that have more robust subsidies.

In other states the solar industry is doing quite well, the AP notes in a separate story:
The high costs that for years made it impractical as a mainstream source of energy are plummeting. Real estate companies are racing to install solar panels on office buildings. Utilities are erecting large solar panel "farms" near big cities and in desolate deserts. And creative financing plans are making solar more realistic than ever for homes.
Solar power installations doubled in the United States last year and are expected to double again this year. More solar energy is being planned than any other power source, including nuclear, coal, natural gas and wind.
Should Pennsylvania renew its solar subsidy program? Why? Share your thoughts in the opinion box below. Signed comments are appreciated but anonymous submissions also are accepted

Related:
Solar industry touts gains in New Jersey

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