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HONESDALE, PA — The solar industry continues to soar in the United States, and according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), through the first half of the year, solar supplied 40%of …
HONESDALE, PA — The solar industry continues to soar in the United States, and according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), through the first half of the year, solar supplied 40%of new generating capacity, more than any other type of energy. For the entirety of 2015, 8,000 megawatts of solar power is expected to have come online. According to SEIA, on average in the United States a megawatt can provide energy for 164 homes, so the new solar available this year will provide power for the equivalent of more than 1.3 million homes.
In 2016, some of that energy is expected to come from 90 solar panels that are due to be installed on the roof of The Cooperage building in Honesdale. In the past, many solar programs depended on government grants and subsidies to get started, and some of the funding is still available. But, increasingly, solar projects are being funded by for-profit entities, who pay the upfront costs for the solar project, then sell the electricity generated back to the people who own the building.
This allows homeowners and others—in this case the non-profit Cooperage—to avoid expensive upfront costs, but still purchase electricity at reduced rates. It provides income to the investors, and allows them to take advantage of tax breaks and other incentives.
In the case of The Cooperage project, the for-profit industry is the Honesdale-based Clean Energy Cooperative Inc. (CECI), which has won a Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
CECI was formed last year to help fill the gap when Pennsylvania state funding incentives meant to help pay the large up-front costs for solar projects disappeared.
Four other solar projects already exist and produce electricity for businesses in the borough.