By Jennifer Wentz, Central Penn Business Journal

Gov. Tom Wolf hopes a soon-to-launch initiative will help Pennsylvania boost sales and production of solar-generated electricity. View the entire press release here.

The initiative is set to kick off in January 2017 with a meeting of government, business and environmental experts, according to a news release from the governor’s office. Groups will continue to meet throughout the year, with the project culminating by January 2018 in a draft plan for Pennsylvania’s solar future.

The plan would be made available for public comment and, six months later, would be available for use by policy makers, regulators, businesses, investors and consumers.

“This is an important step forward for us to better understand how we can increase Pennsylvania’s solar footprint long-term, which will provide more options for consumers and decrease emissions,” Wolf said in the release. “Alternative energy and lower-emission fuels like natural gas will help to decrease the impacts of climate change, which we know will have negative impacts on our air, our health and important industries, including agriculture and tourism.”

The plan will address strategies for meeting state energy goals, how to cost-effectively integrate solar energy into the current grid and measures to help low-income consumers, among other issues.

The goal is to speed up solar’s role in the state’s energy economy and increase solar-generated in-state electricity sales to at least 10 percent by 2030.

A $550,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy will help fund the project.