The City of Philadelphia Office of Sustainability has committed to buying solar renewable energy credits (RECs) generated through local programs that make solar panels more accessible and affordable for low- and moderate-income households across the city. By buying these credits, which represent the value of solar energy generated from local rooftops, the City can support a more equitable local clean energy economy while pursuing carbon neutrality. 

Across the Mid-Atlantic region including Philadelphia, prior to the pandemic, more than 30% of all renters and 50% of Black households reported facing energy insecurity during the year, at times forgoing necessities like food to pay for energy bills. For vulnerable households, especially those who are disproportionately impacted by climate change, affordable rooftop solar can help relieve energy insecurity and increase the value of their homes.  

That’s why the Solarize Philly, Share the Sun, Solar Savings Grants, and Built to Last programs are crucial in citywide efforts to lower carbon emissions and help residents save on energy costs. Managed by the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA) and its green bank affiliate, the Philadelphia Green Capital Corp (PGCC), the programs utilize grants, group-buying discounts and donated solar RECs to reduce financial barriers for low- and moderate-income Philadelphians seeking to go solar.

Local solar rooftop projects nurture the city’s clean energy economy by creating jobs and fueling demand for solar installers, one of the fastest growing job opportunities in Pennsylvania and the country. The PEA estimates that the Solar Savings Grants program alone has generated more than $66,000 in tax revenue from construction costs, while Solarize Philly’s group-buying program has directly created nearly 100 jobs. Equipped with solar rooftops, participating households are collectively generating up to an estimated 2,000 solar RECs – worth up to $100,000 – each year. Furthermore, all proceeds from the City’s RECs purchase will be reinvested into more solar projects for low- and moderate-income households, creating a sustained cycle of funding for affordable solar installations around Philadelphia.

The programs have become an essential part of the City’s plan to generate or purchase renewable energy for 100% of its electricity by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The solar RECs from these programs will raise the portion of renewable electricity in the City’s energy portfolio to 9%. By the end of 2023, the City will gain an additional 22% boost in renewable electricity upon the completion of the power purchasing agreement (PPA) with Adams Solar, a Pennsylvania-based solar farm being developed by Energix Renewables.