CommercialSolarGuy is a solar power developer who builds solar projects. We have a land specialist – Jason Kline – who knows the Pennsylvania market especially well, even developing his own solar power project in Wolf Township.

Community solar projects in Pennsylvania

An analysis by the College of Agricultural Studies at Penn State University has found that there’s over 1 gigawatt of solar power in development within the state that might get built if politicians approve Community Solar legislation.

The analysis, Potential Economic Impact of Community Solar in Pennsylvania, found that 235 community solar facilities across Pennsylvania, with projected a capacity of 1.033 megawatts, has been sited on 4,172 acres of land. With land lease rates estimated to range from $700 to $1,000 an acre, that’s $2.9 to almost $4.2 million a year for 25 to 35 years. Some of these payments will be pulled forward into one-off  lump sum payments.

In total: wages, hardware, taxes, land leases, and spending of that earned income could drive greater than $1.8 billion in economic activity a year for the state.

Jason’s project is 6.5 megawatts – about 26 acres of personally owned land. If you’re a land owner interested in solar power – please email jason@commercialsolarguy.com.

In addition to land lease rates, much other economic activity was modeled for the state.

Direct – like people hired specifically for the construction industry to developer and these project –  and indirect – jobs probably created or expanded by support industries – employment was considered.

…about 5,991 jobs directly within the firms doing the construction, interconnection, and advertising work, about 1,907 jobs in businesses with more sales due to the construction work, and 3,733 jobs resulting from employee spending income earned through these jobs and landowners spending the lease dollars they receive.

From these over 11,000 potential jobs, almost $800 million in wages will be earned. As well, every year the state adds this volume of solar power – about 100 additional electricians will be needed to do operations and maintenance at the sites.

Hardware types purchased to build these systems vary in their origins – with an estimated 38% of all gear purchased coming from in-state manufacturers.

~90% of costs associated with on-site electrical infrastructure, such as wiring, modules, and combiner boxes were expected to be spent within Pennsylvania, as were about 85% of racking installation costs and 80% of system design costs. In contrast, none of the costs associated with the racking systems, the modules, inverters, and other specialized solar equipment were expected to be spent within Pennsylvania.

In total, considering all economic impact, a one-off total to get these first sites built would generate $1.8 billion in economic activity. In the Department of Environmental Protection’s “Pennsylvania’s Solar Future” booklet – a gigawatt a year through 2030 was seen as viable, and necessary to get the state to 10% of electricity from solar power.

Tens years of solar growth would turn that $4.2 million a year into $42 million – which is over $1.2 billion in total land lease payments during the ~30 expected lifetimes of these facilities.

The report broke down siting location, lease payments, jobs, property tax earnings and other data on a county basis. Maybe give a nudge to your local politicians if you’re a land owner, friend of an electrician, or just want some more clean electricity?

Pennsylvania Solar Power Lease Payments
Adams $60,000 Cumberland $32,000 Monroe $92,000
Allegheny $54,000 Dauphin $90,000 Montgomery $196,000
Beaver $64,000 Erie $172,800 Montour $14,400
Bedford $44,000 Fayette $50,400 Northampton $72,000
Berks $124,000 Franklin $56,000 Northumberland $61,200
Blair $16,000 Fulton $14,000 Perry $50,000
Bradford $12,800 Indiana $51,200 Schuylkill $54,000
Bucks $246,000 Juniata $70,000 Snyder $42,000
Butler $11,200 Lackawanna $18,000 Somerset $28,800
Cambria $32,000 Lancaster $94,000 Tioga $16,000
Carbon $36,000 Lawrence $8,400 Union $36,000
Centre $70,000 Lebanon $106,000 Venango $16,000
Chester $268,400 Lehigh $36,000 Washington $42,000
Clarion $32,000 Luzerne $72,000 Wayne $99,600
Columbia $162,000 Lycoming $77,600 Westmoreland $134,400
Crawford $30,000 Mercer $78,400 York $334,000

Bluntly speaking, when it comes to solar electricity, solar power is the non-existent little kid in the all grown up family of fracked gas, coal, and nuclear power in Pennsylvania. With just over 500 megawatts of solar power installed currently, there is near infinite potential for growth.

Hypothetically, this amount of solar power could be installed every single year for 30 years, and still be less than one half of one percent of Pennsylvania’s land area. And the $1.8 billion this first year would turn into tens billions of economic activity by 2030, and then hundreds of billions over the next generation and longer of American energy evolution.

Here’s a a solar land lease frequently asked question document from the State of Pennsylvania for land owners

About John Fitzgerald Weaver

John Fitzgerald Weaver is a solar developer; known digitally as the 'Commercial Solar Guy.' As a project developer and installer, he’s sold and managed 50+ solar projects, valued over $25 million, ranging in size from 5kW to 1500kW. He’s been involved in many aspects of the solar supply chain –- as a company founder, developer, project manager, manufacturer, permit runner, salesman, contractor and financier. In his free time he tries to get away and clear his mind by climbing mountains, or more regularly by enjoying an IPA or scotch, and really loves the strange connection between politics, energy, finance, and environment in the energy world.