HARRISBURG, MAY 27, 2009 – Pennsylvania homeowners and small business owners seeking to reduce their electric bills through alternative energy projects can find assistance through a new rebate program, state Sen. Wayne D. Fontana said today.

The PA Sunshine Solar Program, passed by the General Assembly in 2008 as part of a sweeping energy legislation package, will provide $100 million in rebates to eligible consumers who purchase and install solar energy technology.

“I’m pleased the Commonwealth is taking steps toward making energy more affordable for Pennsylvania’s homeowners and small business owners,” Fontana said. “At the same time, this program helps protect the environment and the future of Pennsylvania.”

Fontana said consumers may be reimbursed up to 35 percent of the purchase and installation costs of solar electric and solar hot water projects. The combined assistance of these rebates and federal tax credits could reduce system costs for consumers by 45 percent.

Several projects are eligible for the rebate, including installation of solar panels that help provide electricity for pumping water, powering communications equipment, lighting homes or businesses, and running appliances. In addition, installing a solar water heating system can produce hot water necessary for washing, cooking, cleaning, and other domestic and commercial uses of hot water.

Pennsylvania homeowners who are residents of the Commonwealth are eligible to receive the rebate. Vacation homes and investment properties are not qualified to receive funding. Small business applicants must be a for-profit business with no more than 100 full-time employees, located within Pennsylvania.

Rebates will be awarded on a first-come-first-served basis to approved applicants. Households may receive one solar photovoltaic (PV) rebate for up to 10 kilowatts of installed PV generating capacity plus one solar thermal rebate not to exceed $2,000. A small business may only submit one PV and one solar thermal application at a time and must complete the project and rebate process prior to submitting another application.

Fontana noted that consumers do not submit the application themselves. Consumers must choose an installer from a list of installers approved by the Department of Environmental Protection. Installers will then complete and submit the application, available on-line at http://www.padep.powerclerk.com.

Applications are also available for solar photovoltaic and solar thermal installation contractors wishing to register to participate in the new Pennsylvania Sunshine Program.