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Solar Smart Swarthmore
Getting Started with Solar
Welcome to Swarthmore Borough’s solar resource webpage. In 2020, Swarthmore Borough Council committed to encouraging solar energy development in our community. This page represents a collection of solar information and resources for the community. For more information about the basics of solar energy, your solar options, and questions to ask solar professionals, read the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power and visit the US Department of Energy’s Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar. Other useful information can be found on the PA Department of Environmental Protection website and PECO's Solar Facts page and Green Power Connection page.
Solar energy uses a renewable energy source – the sun – and provides many benefits for individuals and the community. It improves environmental quality by reducing carbon emissions and air pollution, supports local solar companies in Pennsylvania, saves money on energy costs as the price continues to drop from technological developments, and improves electric grid resilience during peak demand and other stresses to the system.
For a spotlight on Pennsylvania solar, click here.
Solar Maps and Potential
You can estimate the performance of potential PV projects using the national Renewable Energy Laboratory's PVWatts Calculator or Google's Project Sunroof.
Building and Zoning Codes
The Swarthmore Planning Commission is currently reviewing the Borough's Zoning Code for compatibility with the Borough's goals to support solar installations in Swarthmore. Check back soon for details.
Applying for a building permit? Going solar can save you on permit fees. Check out the Borough's Green Points program here.
Application Policies and Processes
To promote the continued advancement of solar in our community, we are committed to the following:
- Providing clear guidelines about the solar permitting and inspection process.
- Using a solar specific permit application and keeping permit fees low (current fee is $50).
- Processing small rooftop solar PV permit applications within 3 business days.
Finding a Contractor and Going Solar
Find a solar contractor (or two) to assess your home for solar energy and provide a quote.
- Certified practitioners can be found through the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). Swarthmore-based Open Sky Energy is certified through NABCEP.
- Visit EnergySage to learn about solar energy and submit for solar quotes from a network of pre-screened, local solar installers
- Review the Consumer Solar Checklist and Clean Energy Bill of Rights, handy reference guides for residential consumers considering solar energy from IREC, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.
- Utilize resources found in SEIA's Solar Customer Resource Portal.
Financing, Incentives, and Tax Exemptions
Federal and State incentives may be available. Learn more from the Clean Energy States Alliance Homeowner’s Guide to Solar Financing.
Get Involved, Stay Informed
The Swarthmore Environmental Advisory Council works to encourage and enhance solar energy in Swarthmore. More information can be found on the Borough website and on their Facebook page.
The Philadelphia Solar Energy Association is a volunteer-based, member-supported nonprofit working to promote the rapid adoption of solar energy in the Philadelphia region and across the state.
Job Training and Educational Opportunities
Interested in pursuing a career in solar energy? Check out the Solar Foundation Solar Training Network for more information.