by Jeff St. John
October 16, 2020

Pennsylvania, the epicenter of the country’s fracking industry, isn’t exactly a vanguard in clean energy development. It ranks squarely in the middle of U.S. states in terms of solar deployment, with about 540 megawatts of solar installed as of mid-2020, less than half a percent of its total generation capacity, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. 

About four-fifths of that is distributed solar of less than 5 megawatts, the maximum system size eligible for net metering under state law. Of that, about 180 megawatts consist of residential rooftop solar systems less than 15 kilowatts, according to data from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.  

That’s a decent amount of rooftop solar, but certainly not enough to cause the kind of voltage fluctuations, two-way power flows or “duck curve” energy supply-demand imbalances that are starting to disrupt power grids in Hawaii, California and other solar-heavy states. 

But for PPL Electric Utilities, which serves about 1.4 million customers in eastern Pennsylvania, the fact that it only has several thousand rooftop PV systems on its system to date — compared to more than a million in California — isn’t a good reason not to start to plan ahead for managing its future growth.