Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar Rebate Program

November 24, 2014


Note: This program re-opened to new applications on January 24, 2013 with $7.25 million in new funding. A portion of this new funding will be reserved for prior rebate reservations and projects already on the waiting list. These projects must be completed by June 1, 2013 to retain their incentives. No new applications will be accepted after December 31, 2013 or when funding is exhausted.

The Pennsylvania Sunshine program offers rebates to residential and small commercial residents that install photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal systems. Systems that use solar thermal energy for the purpose of radiant heating or pool or hot tub heating are not eligible; however, other types of uses which require heated water are eligible (e.g., industrial process heating). The program was authorized in July 2008 by the state legislature and began accepting applications in May 2009 under the administration of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Only systems installed after the date of program opening are eligible for rebates. A total of $100 million (funded through state bonds) is available for rebates over the lifetime of the program. The DEP expects the program as a whole to last three to four years.

All residential applicants must be Pennsylvania residents, own the home upon which the system is installed, and use it as a primary residence (i.e., vacation homes and investment properties do not qualify for residential rebates). Small business applicants must be for-profit entities located within the state of Pennsylvania with no more than 100 full-time employees. This definition includes producers of an agricultural commodity. Low-income residents (60% or less of median state income) are eligible for higher incentives than other applicants.

It is important to note that residents and small businesses do not submit incentive applications themselves. Applications must be submitted on behalf of the applicant by an approved installer. Households are eligible for only one PV and one solar thermal rebate. Small businesses may receive multiple rebates, but are only permitted to submit one PV application and one solar thermal application at a time and must complete the project and rebate process prior to submitting another application.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has issued a policy statement on "double-dipping" from multiple solar rebate programs (e.g., the PA Sunshine and the PPL Electric Utilities solar rebate programs). Double-dipping is generally not permitted; however, the DEP does identify some circumstances where participation in PA Sunshine and another solar rebate program would not be considered double-dipping. Click here or visit the program website to view the DEP's statement.

The program was originally set up to provide rebates that decline over time as certain benchmarks, or "steps", of installed capacity were reached. The program is now coming to a close and incentive levels for PV are on the final step. Incentive levels for solar thermal systems remain on the first step. In 2011 a separate stepped incentive schedule was added for battery back-up systems. This incentive was originally available for retrofits of existing systems installed on or after September 1, 2010 but is now only available for new system applications.

The list below describes incentive levels and other program rules as they stood as of January 29, 2013.

  • Residential PV: $0.75/W for systems of 1-10 kilowatts (kW). Systems larger than 10 kW are eligible, but incentives are limited to first 10 kW.
  • Residential Battery Back-up: $0.35/amp-hour for up to 400 amp-hours/kW. Systems larger than 10 kW are not eligible for battery back-up incentives.
  • Small Business PV: $0.75/W for systems of 3-10 kW and $0.50/W for next 90 kW. Systems larger than 100 kW are eligible, but incentives are limited to first 100 kW.
  • Solar Thermal: 35% of installed system cost, with maximums of $5,000 for residences and $50,000 for small businesses.
  • Low-Income (PV and Solar Thermal): 35% of installed costs (the maximum rebate authorized by the enabling legislation).

All work must be performed by approved installers (see list on program website), and systems are subject to a variety of equipment and installation requirements. System owners or site hosts are permitted to assign the rebate to an installer or a leasing company. The application procedures generally require that systems be grid-connected, but exceptions to this requirement may be granted by the DEP on a case-by-case basis at the applicant's request. The program will not cover costs associated with roof repair. Provisions also exist for system inspections and performance reporting.

Ownership of renewable energy credits (RECs) or other environmental attributes produced by rebated systems is not addressed in the program rules; however, Pennsylvania's net metering rules grant the customer-generator title RECs generated by net metered systems unless the customer assigns them to another entity or specifically rejects ownership. Please consult the program guidelines or contact the DEP for further program details.

Program Overview

Implementing Sector: State
Category: Financial Incentive
State: Pennsylvania
Incentive Type: Rebate Program
Web Site:
Administrator: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Start Date: 05/18/2009 (date of program opening);<br>09/01/2010 (battery back-up addition)
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:
  • Solar Water Heat
  • Solar Thermal Process Heat
  • Solar Photovoltaics
Incentive Amount: Residential PV: $0.75/W DC
Commercial PV: $0.50 - $0.75/W DC (varies by system size)
Residential Battery Backup (1-10 kW only): $0.35/amp-hour
Solar Thermal: 35% of installed cost
Low-income (PV and solar thermal): 35% of installed cost
Maximum Incentive: Residential PV: lesser of $7,500 or 35% of installed costs
Commercial PV: lesser of $52,500 or 35% of installed costs
Residential Battery Backup (1-10 kW only): $140/kW (maximum of 400 amp-hours/kW)
Solar Thermal: $5,000 for residential, $50,000 for commercial
Eligible System Size: Residential PV: 1 kW minimum (10 kW maximum for battery back-up)
Commercial PV: 3 kW minimum
Equipment Requirements: Equipment must be new; PV equipment must be listed as eligible under the California Solar Initiative (CSI); Utility grade meter (new or refurbished) required for PV systems; SRCC OG-100 certification required for solar thermal collectors
Installation Requirements: Work must be performed by a program-approved installer; PV systems must generally be grid-connected (exceptions on a case-by-case basis); for solar thermal shade and system performance analysis must indicate system output at least 80% of optimum; Newly constructed homes must be Energy Star certified
Ownership of Renewable Energy Credits: Not specified, but net metering customers generally retain title to RECs


Name: Special Session H.B. 1
Date Enacted: 07/09/2008
Effective Date: 05/18/2009 (date of program opening)


Name: Public Information - PA Sunshine
Organization: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Prot
Address: PO Box 8772
Harrisburg PA 17105-8772
Phone: (717) 783-8411

This information is sourced from DSIRE; the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University.