A brighter solar future could come to Philly via excess energy credits

Solarize Philly helps solar power users donate energy credits to install renewable power in areas where people can’t afford the cost of installation.

Nidhi Krishen speaks from a podium

Nidhi Krishen, of Philadelphia's Office of Sustainability, donated solar energy credits to support households that wouldn't normally be able to afford installation. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

As part of Earth Week, solar advocates on Wednesday unveiled an effort to expand renewable energy to more Philadelphia homes.

Solarize Philly has already connected solar panels to 900 homes and businesses that otherwise may not have been able to afford the cost of installation. The mass shift to renewable energy has generated $15 million and translated into 100 family-sustaining jobs for the region.

The group hopes to expand its solar offerings to another 100 properties.

Solarize Philly has joined with Philadelphia Green Capital Corp. to set up the Share the Sun program, which allows people with existing solar installations to donate solar renewable energy credits, also called SRECs, to help those who couldn’t normally afford the cost of installation. The group is seeking 100 donors to help fund the project.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Nidhi Krishen from Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability was among those who had already signed up for the program. She thought it was going to be difficult, but instead, found the process was quick and easy.

“This was one of the most streamlined and simple processes. I think we exchanged three emails,” Krishen said. “I’m good to go, and now the surplus energy that I generate goes to support other Philadelphians be able to access the same benefits that I enjoy.”

Alon Abramson of the Philadelphia Energy Authority said solar can pay for itself in as little as 10 years by slashing a homeowner’s electric bill. The panels also provide clean energy that is better for the environment.

Homeowner Walter Tsou didn’t think he could switch to solar energy because his home has a slate roof. When he had contractors over to take a look, they discovered solar panels could be added to the roof of his garage to provide clean energy. “It seems like it’s already cutting my bill in half, and during the summer, I hope all of my electricity will be coming from the sun,” Tsou said.

Walter Tsou turned his garage into a solar energy generation station. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

And with more solar panels comes more job opportunities.

Shonique Banks of the Bright Solar Futures program said an equitable future includes more jobs for young people working to install solar systems.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor
Shonique Banks says the bright solar futures program is training young people to install solar panels. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

“We are building a diverse clean energy workforce, one that provides an on-ramp to meaningful careers for populations traditionally excluded from the clean energy economy and yet most burdened by the high cost of energy efficiencies,” Banks said.

A city solar rebate program is currently closed, but officials hope it will be restarted and are still accepting applications online.

Saturdays just got more interesting.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal