Renewable Energy in Philadelphia [2024 Guide]

CleanChoice Energy employees at a rooftop solar farm
  • May 1, 2024

Philadelphia, a city steeped in rich history, is laying the groundwork for its future as its citizens and government increasingly embrace renewable energy. By amplifying renewable energy initiatives, Philadelphia is playing a crucial role in Pennsylvania's clean energy ambitions and carving out a model for other urban centers. From benefits to incentives to how residents can get involved, here’s everything you should know about renewable energy in Philadelphia in 2024.

Philadelphia’s Renewable Energy Landscape

Philadelphia's Municipal Energy Master Plan has set ambitious targets for renewable energy adoption, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% and cutting energy use by 20% by the year 2030. Additionally, the plan commits to generating or purchasing 100% of all electricity for city facilities from renewable resources by 2030, while striving to maintain or reduce the cost of energy.

The city’s renewable energy transformation is well underway, especially given the development of a massive solar project in Adams County. This ambitious solar field, covering about 700 acres near Gettysburg, will supply enough renewable energy to account for approximately 23% to 25% of the city's electricity needs. Complementing this large-scale solar initiative, the city has launched the Streetlight Improvement Plan, which involves replacing 100,000 street lamps with energy-efficient LED bulbs. This change is expected to halve the city’s street light electricity usage.

Despite these advances, Philadelphia still has significant work ahead to meet its 2030 target. As of February 2024, renewable energy accounts for about 8% of the city's electricity demand.

Benefits of Renewable Energy for Philadelphia

The shift towards renewable energy in Philadelphia brings forth a plethora of benefits spanning the environment, economy, and public health. Environmentally, the move away from fossil fuels towards renewables like solar and wind power substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions. This reduction is critical in the fight against global warming and climate change, issues that have direct and long-term implications for Philadelphia.

Economically, the adoption of renewable energy creates new opportunities in terms of jobs and investments in the green sector. As the city embraces more renewable energy projects, this fosters a market for green technologies and services, contributing to economic growth. The health benefits associated with a shift to renewable energy in Philadelphia are equally significant. Improved air quality resulting from reduced reliance on fossil fuels can lead to fewer health issues among residents.

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Philadelphia’s Renewable Energy Goals and Commitments

Philadelphia has set ambitious goals to carve out its own identity in the renewable energy landscape, aligned with Pennsylvania's broader climate strategy. The city aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly, aspiring to generate or buy 100% of all electricity from renewable resources by 2030.

Key to these efforts is the Philadelphia Energy Campaign, an initiative aiming to invest billions in public and private funds over the next decade to improve energy efficiency in buildings and homes, while creating thousands of jobs. Additionally, the city is a proud participant in the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, emphasizing its dedication to leading the way in urban environmental sustainability.

Philadelphia's approach mirrors Pennsylvania's Climate Action Plan 2021, which sets state-wide goals for reducing carbon emissions and increasing renewable energy use. By aligning its local goals with state-wide objectives, Philadelphia contributes to the state’s overall environmental targets and sets a standard for other cities to follow.

A father and daughter looking over wind turbines in a wind farm producing renewable energy

Challenges and Opportunities in Philadelphia’s Energy Transition

Transitioning to renewable energy in an urban setting like Philadelphia comes with its unique set of challenges and opportunities. One of the primary challenges is integrating renewable energy infrastructure into the existing urban fabric. The city’s historic buildings and densely packed neighborhoods limits potential for large-scale renewable installations like wind turbines and extensive solar farms. Additionally, there is the challenge of ensuring equitable access to renewable energy resources across all communities, regardless of their economic status.

However, these challenges are met with significant opportunities. Philadelphia’s rooftop potential for solar installations is vast and largely untapped. The city can leverage this potential by encouraging rooftop solar panels on residential and commercial buildings. Another opportunity lies in Philadelphia’s position as an educational and technological hub. The city can capitalize on its rich academic and technological resources to drive innovation in renewable energy technologies and solutions. Partnerships between the city, academic institutions, and the private sector can lead to groundbreaking advancements and implementation of renewable energy technologies.

Renewable Energy Incentives in Philadelphia

To facilitate the transition to renewable energy, Philadelphia residents have access to a variety of incentives at both the federal and state levels. Federally, the solar investment tax credit (ITC) allows homeowners and businesses to deduct 26% of the cost of installing a solar energy system from their federal taxes. This incentive is a significant driver in making solar energy more accessible and affordable.

At the state level, Pennsylvania offers programs such as the Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) market, which allows solar panel owners to earn and sell certificates generated from their solar systems. Furthermore, the Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar Rebate Program offers rebates to residential and small business customers who install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Locally, Philadelphia has initiatives aimed specifically at increasing renewable energy adoption in the city. The Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA) offers the Solarize Philly program, a group buying program that significantly reduces the cost of solar installations for homeowners and businesses. 

How Philadelphia Residents Can Participate in Renewable Energy

Philadelphia’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, coupled with the growing accessibility of renewable energy sources and supportive incentives, is paving the way for a greener, more sustainable city. 

CleanChoice Energy is a great option for Philadelphia residents looking to go renewable. With CleanChoice, individuals can switch to 100% clean, renewable energy. This choice not only contributes to reducing dependence on fossil fuels but also supports the green revolution. Making the switch is easy and impactful, allowing every Philadelphia resident to be a part of the journey towards a sustainable and resilient energy future. Join the movement and make a difference by getting started with CleanChoice Energy today, and take an active role in shaping a cleaner, greener world.

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