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A00542
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
1032
Session of
2023
INTRODUCED BY FIEDLER, KAUFER, GAYDOS, BOROWSKI, MALAGARI,
PISCIOTTANO, NEILSON, KRUEGER, OTTEN, KRAJEWSKI, INNAMORATO,
SCHLOSSBERG, T. DAVIS, D. WILLIAMS, VITALI, PROBST, GUENST,
HILL-EVANS, TAKAC, SMITH-WADE-EL, MADDEN, McANDREW, BRENNAN,
VENKAT, KHAN, GIRAL, KENYATTA, WAXMAN, HADDOCK, SANCHEZ,
HOWARD, KINSEY, WARREN AND O'MARA, APRIL 26, 2023
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON CONSUMER PROTECTION, TECHNOLOGY AND
UTILITIES, APRIL 26, 2023
AN ACT
Establishing the Solar for Schools Grant Program; and providing
for powers and duties of the Department of Community and
Economic Development.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Short title.
This act shall be known and may be cited as the Solar for
Schools Act.
Section 2. Purpose.
The purpose of this act is to expand the use of solar energy
at school facilities in this Commonwealth to achieve the
following benefits:
(1) To help schools reduce their present and future
energy costs.
(2) To increase the resiliency of school energy systems.
(3) To help schools reduce their emissions of carbon
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dioxide and other pollutants.
(4) To grow employment through good-paying jobs in the
solar industry.
(5) To maximize the Inflation Reduction Act's solar
energy investment tax credit for Pennsylvania.
Section 3. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this act shall
have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Department." The Department of Community and Economic
Development of the Commonwealth.
"Eligible applicant." Any of the following:
(1) A school district.
(2) An intermediate unit.
(3) An area career and technical school.
(4) A chartered school for the education of the deaf or
the blind.
(5) A community college.
(6) The Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology.
(7) The Pennsylvania College of Technology.
"Eligible project costs." The term includes costs related to
the purchase and installation of equipment, including prepayment
in whole or in part of a solar lease or power purchase
agreement, permit fees, energy storage, utility interconnection
and any other costs approved by the department.
"Inflation Reduction Act." The Inflation Reduction Act of
2022 (Public Law 117-169, 136 Stat. 1818).
"Program." The Solar for Schools Grant Program established
under section 4.
"School facility." An educational building and surrounding
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premises owned by an eligible applicant.
"Solar energy project." A project at a school facility
related to photovoltaic or solar thermal devices that convert,
transfer or store solar energy in or into usable forms of
thermal or electric energy.
Section 4. Solar for Schools Grant Program.
(a) Establishment.--The Solar for Schools Grant Program is
established in the department to award grants to eligible
applicants on a competitive basis to the extent that money is
appropriated for this purpose.
(b) Use of grants.--A grant awarded under this section shall
be used by the eligible applicant for eligible project costs
related to a solar energy project.
(c) Duties of department.--The department shall have the
following powers and duties:
(1) To establish guidelines necessary to implement this
act.
(2) To establish the process through which eligible
applicants may apply for grant money.
(3) To develop the minimum information to be included in
a solar feasibility assessment.
(4) To provide technical assistance to schools as
appropriate, including, but not limited to, conducting solar
assessments.
(5) To develop educational materials about using,
purchasing, financing and maintaining solar energy projects.
(6) To provide information related to funding
opportunities through the Inflation Reduction Act.
(7) To enter into agreements with third-party entities,
including the Department of Environmental Protection, to
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carry out the provisions of this act, including reviewing
applications and providing technical assistance.
(d) Application.--An eligible applicant shall submit an
application on a form and in a manner as determined by the
department. The following apply:
(1) The application shall include the result of a solar
feasibility assessment conducted by a qualified solar
installer.
(2) Prior to the time period established by the
department to submit an application, the department shall
solicit and fulfill requests for technical assistance from
eligible applicants.
(e) Prevailing wage requirement.--
(1) An employer or contractor contracted to complete a
solar energy project under the program shall pay the
prevailing minimum wage and benefit rates for all crafts or
classifications performing construction, reconstruction,
demolition, alteration and repair work, other than
maintenance work, on the solar energy project as determined
by the Department of Labor and Industry under the act of
August 15, 1961 (P.L.987, No.442), known as the Pennsylvania
Prevailing Wage Act, and as bid under the act of May 1, 1913
(P.L.155, No.104), referred to as the Separations Act.
(2) If the department or the Department of Labor and
Industry determines that an eligible applicant that received
a grant under the program failed to comply with the
Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act or the Separations Act, the
eligible applicant must refund to the department the total
amount of grants awarded for the solar energy project.
(f) Grant limits.--An eligible applicant may receive a grant
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of up to 50% of the eligible project costs for the solar energy
project.
(g) Grant awards.--
(1) The department, in its discretion, may award in
whole or in part a request made by an eligible applicant in
its grant application based upon the merit of a specific
component requested.
(2) The department shall give preference in award
decisions to eligible applicants seeking funding under the
Inflation Reduction Act.
(3) The department shall give preference in award
decisions to eligible applicants in close proximity to coal-
powered electric generation plants that have closed or will
close within one year of the effective date of this
paragraph.
(3) (4) The department may give preference in award
decisions to applications demonstrating the greatest amount
of solar energy projected to be produced relative to the
existing energy usage at the school facility proposed for the
solar energy project.
(4) (5) The department may give preference in award
decisions to school entities that qualify for the Low-Income
Communities Bonus Credit Program established under the
Inflation Reduction Act.
(5) (6) The department shall ensure that money for the
program is geographically dispersed throughout this
Commonwealth based on the applications received.
(6) (7) A grant award received by a school entity under
this act shall not be included when calculating the amount to
be paid to a charter school under section 1725-A of the act
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of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School
Code of 1949.
(7) (8) A grant award received under this act shall not
be contingent upon the applicant committing to transfer
ownership of any solar renewable energy credits generated by
a solar energy project.
(8) (9) A grant award received under this act shall be
contingent upon the eligible applicant retaining ownership of
the equipment, including photovoltaic or solar thermal
devices, related to the solar energy project at the onset of
the purchase and installation of the equipment or at the
conclusion of a power purchase agreement or lease agreement
with a third party.
(h) Best practices.--An eligible applicant that receives a
grant under the program may:
(1) Use the energy cost savings from the solar energy
project to supplement, not supplant, existing spending on
school facility projects, including environmental and health
hazard remediation, indoor air quality improvements, heating,
ventilation and air conditioning upgrades, roof, window and
plumbing repairs or replacements, and emergency repairs.
(2) Integrate the solar energy project into the school's
educational curriculum, as appropriate.
(i) Reimbursement.--In the event that a school facility that
benefited from a grant under the program is leased or sold, the
eligible applicant that received the grant shall notify the
department, and the new owner of the school facility shall
reimburse the department the amount of the grant related to the
solar energy project at the school facility.
(j) Guidelines.--Within 90 days of the effective date of
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this section, the department shall publish the guidelines
required by subsection (c)(1) on the department's publicly
accessible Internet website.
(k) Audits.--The department may randomly audit and monitor
grant recipients to ensure the appropriate use of grant money
and compliance with the provisions of this act and department
guidelines established under subsection (c).
(l) Administrative fee.--The department may use money
appropriated for the program to pay for the direct costs
associated with the administration of the program, including
providing technical assistance.
Section 5. Effective date.
This act shall take effect July 1, 2023, or immediately,
whichever is later.
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