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DEP unveils new solar energy plan

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – – The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) believe the future of solar in the state is bright. 

The US Department of Energy gave Pennsylvania $550,000 to put together a plan for the future solar energy in the state.

Planners say we're falling behind other states on solar progress, and that if we step it up, the state's economy would see big  benefits. 

"Solar is something that's in everyone's community. It's on people's homes, it's at their schools, it's at people's work at times," said David Althoff, Principal Investigator, Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection. 

State officials released a draft  of the Solar Future Plan. The goal is to have 10% of Pennsylvania's electricity generated by solar power by 2030.

"It describes an opportunity to have similar discussion points with community leaders, with decision-makers and folks who can enable more solar to be deployed," said Althoff.

The extensive plan includes 15 strategies for solar farms and homes, and outlines potential regulatory changes and financial incentives. But nothing is free.

Althoff says those who opt for change would initially pay 1.5% more on energy every year. 

"Those costs are overcome by economic development, jobs, environmental benefits, health benefits," said Althoff. 

About 4,700 people in Pennsylvania currently work in the solar energy industry. The department says that if the proposal goes as planned, it hopes to add 30,000 by 2030. 

"These are good paying jobs. Jobs that are approximately $30 an hour," said Althoff. 

500 stakeholders teamed up to put together a recipe for solar success, including the Energy Association of Pennsylvania. 

 "There's some things we agree with and some things we don't," said Fitzpatrick. 

The association's president, Terry Fitzpatrick says the plan may raise questions about policy for how the state gathers energy. 

"There are a whole lot of things that would need to happen and fall in place to achieve ten percent solar by 2030. You would need some changes in law to essentially mandate this much solar energy," said Fitzpatrick. 

To view the DEPs full plan click here

To give your input on the plan click here

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