Local homeowners and small business that may have been on a waiting list for as long as two years will now have access to additional funding to complete solar power projects.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection this week announced it received $7.25 million from the Commonwealth Financing Authority to fund the agency's Sunshine Solar Program.

Through the program, homeowners can take advantage of two types of solar panels-those used for electricity and those used to heat hot water tanks.

In both cases, solar panels are often installed on the roof of a house. However, if a home isn't facing in the right direction to absorb solar energy, the panels can be installed at ground level in the yard.

Since 2011, the program has been on hold because demand outstretched available dollars, putting 600 projects on a waiting list.

About 50 projects are on the waiting list in York County, and 436 projects have been awarded in the county throughout the duration of the program, according to department spokeswoman Lynda Rebarchak.

Those on the waiting list can expect a rebate or completed project soon. The DEP is in the process of sending 400 rebates to contractors who applied for solar rebates on behalf of homeowners, she said.

Contractors will have until June 1 to complete a remaining 200 projects on the waiting list.

The DEP has spent more than $105 million on rebates since 2009. Thanks to the recent funding, the agency will be able to complete an additional 400 installations this year, said DEP Secretary Mike Krancer.

Funds for those installations will be doled out on a first-come, first-serve basis, he said.

The process in which contractors apply for rebate money has also changed. During the last round of the program, contractors had to apply for and reserve rebate money on behalf of homeowners and then had to submit additional information after the work was completed. Now, contractors only have to apply for a rebate after a project has been completed.

Homeowners and small business owners seeking the limited funding should contact a DEP-approved solar installer, the agency advised.

A list of those contractors can be found on the agency's website www.dep.state.pa.us by typing "Sunshine" into the search field.

For more information, contractors can participate in a webinar from 2 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12.

- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.