Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Collaborates with Pennsylvania State University to Develop Guide to Grid-Scale Solar Development for Local Officials

Source: RL Martin

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) worked with Penn State Extension through the Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research (MCOR) to publish the Municipal Officials’ Guide to Grid-Scale Solar Development in Pennsylvania. Approximately one year ago, DEP identified the need for a resource that specifically addresses the issues and questions local officials that face when grid-scale solar projects are proposed in their communities. DEP partnered with Penn State to develop this guide leveraging funding from DEP State Energy Program Formula Grant award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).  The content of the guide was informed by nine outreach and technical assistance sessions conducted across the Commonwealth in 2022 that engaged 206 municipal and county officials. In addition, ten webinars were conducted that attracted 269 participants with the purpose of collecting and discussing information associated with grid-scale solar development. The resultant guide is responsive to current challenges faced in 64 of 67 Pennsylvania counties, where over 500 grid-scale solar projects are in different phases of proposal, review, and construction. Providing this resource to local officials is critical, as final land use siting, permitting, and regulatory decisions for grid-scale solar development are made at the local level in Pennsylvania. The content of the guide addresses topics such as physical and environmental impacts, land conversion issues, localized economic impacts, tax implications, and ordinance consideration for grid-scale solar development. The guide will be updated and maintained by Penn State as new information is gained and lessons are learned and as more projects are approved and constructed.  The guide can be found on both the MCOR website and the Local Government page on the Pennsylvania DEP Solar Energy Resource Hub.