Coal, oil and nuclear power have deep roots in Pennsylvania, but solar energy is poised to grow with the state’s pro-solar policies and incentives. Solar installations in Pennsylvania have risen from just under 260 megawatts in 2015 to 1,002 megawatts by the end of 2022.
The Solar Energy Industries Association ranks Pennsylvania 24th in solar installations (PDF) in the US. The growing solar market could ease the electricity rate hikes residents have experienced over the last year. According to CNET’s sister publication SaveOnEnergy, Pennsylvania residents paid an average of $139.59 for electricity bills in November 2022, or $1,675.08 over the year.
Pennsylvania solar panel cost
A solar system’s size, components and permitting fees determine the total system cost, among other factors. Find Energy estimates you’ll need an 8-kilowatt solar system if you live in Pennsylvania to fully offset your home electricity consumption. The average price per installed watt in Pennsylvania is $4.04, which is higher than the average national price. Here’s how Pennsylvania compares to the national average.
Pennsylvania vs. the US
|System size (kW)
|Price per watt
Solar financing options in Pennsylvania
There are different ways you can pay for solar panels in Pennsylvania. Each one has its benefits and downsides.
Cash: Buying a solar system outright gives you full ownership, and you don’t need to deal with monthly interest payments or loan fees — but purchasing in cash comes with a high upfront cost. However, the residential clean energy credit, a federal solar tax credit program, can significantly lower it (more than that below).
Loan: The benefit of using a loan is you don’t need to pay a hefty upfront cost like paying with cash. But loans come with interest and other associated fees, which add to the total cost of solar.
Leasing: With leasing, a solar developer installs solar panels on your home and charges you a fixed monthly rate (think of it as paying rent) for using the power generated by the panels. Since the developer owns the panels, you wouldn’t be eligible for any tax and other incentives. All the incentives go to the developer.
Power purchase agreement: It’s similar to leasing but different. Under a power purchase agreement, you pay a fixed price per kilowatt-hour (a unit of energy measured as one kilowatt of power for one hour) for power produced by the panels. Like solar leasing, the company providing you energy through a power purchase agreement owns and maintains solar panels and receives all incentives.