SRECTrade has printed auction prices for Pennsylvania ranging from a high of $310 in June 2010 and a low of $20 for SRECs created in the same energy year. The drop in Pennsylvania SREC prices is due to a severe over-supply of SRECs above the amount of SRECs that buyers (electricity producers) need to acquire each year, but how did the market become over-supplied and is anything being done to address the over-supply?
The Pennsylvania SREC market was created as a state-level, long-term incentive for homeowners and businesses to go solar, but around the same time that the SREC market was created, other, more generous solar rebate programs like the Pennsylvania Sunshine Program were created that caused a short-term boom in solar installations. In addition to this, the Pennsylvania SREC market is one of two markets (OH is the other) that accept SRECs from out-of-state sited solar systems, including from states that don’t have their own SREC markets. This means that Pennsylvanians are effectively subsidizing solar in other states and ensuring that Pennsylvania SREC prices remain low.
The Proposed Fix
The Pennsylvania SREC market was created by the state legislature and amendments to the market must go through the legislature first. In the spring of 2011, Rep. Chris Ross (R-Chester) proposed House Bill (HB)-1580 to address some of the key factors behind low Pennsylvania prices. The crux of HB 1580 is a proposal to move up the SREC requirement by three years. This would mean that if the bill passed, Pennsylvania SREC requirements would increase beginning in 2013. A detailed schedule of the proposed increase can be found in the bill.
We’ve followed the progress of HB 1580 over the last year and periodically posted updates to our blog. Most recently the bill went before the House Consumer Affairs Committee on January 11, 2012 where it met resistance from Committee Chair Rep. Bob Godshall (R-Montgomery) and various entrenched groups representing the Pennsylvania electricity industry. Since the January hearing Rep. Chris Ross has worked hard to develop compromise amedments to HB-1580 that might help the bill survive a tough Committee vote. If the bill makes it out of Committee it has 110 co-sponsors in the House and substantial Senate support in a companion bill.
According to PennFuture, a Pennsylvania environmental and renewable energy advocacy group, Ross’ proposed the following compromises:
- Capping the Alternative Compliance Payment (ACP) for solar at $325, with a 2% annual decline
- Offsetting early-year increases in the solar requirement with decreases in later years and extending the SREC program through 2026
- Allowing solar hot water (SHW) systems to qualify for SREC sales
- Making slight adjustments to the language of the in-state requirement, aimed at preventing net-metered systems from inadvertently being disqualified
- Ensuring that utilities cannot procure any AEPS resource above the ACP price
What Can You Do?
Pennsylvania solar advocates are hoping that they can convince the House Consumer Affairs Committee to vote on HB 1580 when the legislature reconvenes in mid-March. If you are a Pennsylvania resident, please feel free to contact House Majority Leader Turzai at 717-772-9943 to express your support for seeing the bill go up for vote.