The Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA) opened applications for the Philadelphia Solar Rebate on behalf of the City’s Office of Sustainability in March 2020. The Rebate was fully subscribed with a waiting list as of the end of FY20 (June 30th). This positive response to the Rebate is an indication of the high demand for solar in Philadelphia. Though funding for the program was not renewed for FY21 due to COVID-related budget cuts, PEA continues to collect applications on a waiting list, which will be processed in the order in which they were received should funding for the program be restored.
PEA approved 202 applications during FY20, including 3 applications for commercial projects and 199 applications for residential projects. To be eligible for this one-time incentive payment from the City, a property owner must have received Permission to Operate from PECO for a solar photovoltaic system on their property on or after July 1, 2019. The rebate amount was based on the DC kW system size of the solar project, with residential projects receiving $0.20 per watt (an average of $1,000 for a rowhome) and commercial projects receiving $0.10 per watt.
Philadelphia City Council established the Philadelphia Solar Rebate to encourage Philadelphians to continue adopting solar, despite the step-down of the federal Investment Tax Credit. Mark Mumbauer, one of the households that received a Rebate, stated, “The rebate encouraged us to go solar because it helped us know the City of Philadelphia was behind our efforts, not just in word, but in monetary deed as well.” Many of the rebate recipients, like Mark, said the rebate affected their final decision to switch to solar energy in seeing the city’s willingness to partner with them in investing in a clean energy future.
One of the goals of the Philadelphia Solar Rebate program was to increase access to solar for low- or moderate-income (LMI) households, defined as households earning less than 80% of Area Median Income. This goal was built into the program design by setting aside 10% of allocated funds for LMI households. Of the $249,335 issued as rebates in FY20, $25,020 was issued across 26 LMI households.
Philadelphia City Council established the Philadelphia Solar Rebate in 2019. The Solar Rebate is one of several City measures passed in 2019 to promote solar adoption. Others included a reduction in solar permit fees, a bill to allow solar canopies, and the enabling of Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE).
To learn more about the Philadelphia Solar Rebate and to submit an application to the waitlist, visit phila.gov/solar-rebate.