Business, Environment, Energy Groups Praise Introduction Of Bipartisan Bills Increasing Solar Energy Mandate From 0.5% To 5.5% In PA

On April 12, bipartisan companion bills in the House and Senate to raise the mandate for solar energy from 0.5 percent to 5.5 percent by 2026 under the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards were praised by several energy and environmental groups.

The bills include Senate Bill 501 (Laughlin-R-Erie, Haywood-D-Montgomery) and House Bill 1080 (Quinn-R-Delaware, Herrin-D-Chester).

Renewables Work for PA President Ron Calentano said, “These bills couldn't be launched at a better time, as Pennsylvania’s current renewable energy and solar goals of just 0.5 percent have already been met in this final year of the AEPS with us on target to reach 1.0 percent within the year.

"We greatly thank Senators Laughlin and Haywood and Representatives Quinn and Herrin for their vision and commitment to a prosperous clean energy future. A large number of renewable energy companies, particularly solar installers, developers and investors from across the country, have been eagerly awaiting the expansion of Pennsylvania’s AEPS so they can engage in new clean energy projects here.

“We urge the General Assembly to pass this legislation, which will attract new investment and keep Pennsylvania competitive with our neighboring states’ much higher renewable energy goals.”

Renewables Work for PA is jointly led by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), the Pennsylvania Solar & Storage Industries Association (PASSIA), and the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition (MAREC).

“There’s no better time to boost Pennsylvania’s economy by adding many jobs and investment in local communities than at this critical juncture when the Commonwealth’s economy is suffering the added effects of the COVID pandemic,” said Bruce Burcat, the Executive Director of MAREC.

“Increasing all of the Commonwealth’s renewable energy goals will ensure that we keep pace for development in wind, solar and methane digesters,” says the RW4PA coalition. “These projects add much-needed diversity to our electric grid and would create tens of thousands of jobs across the Commonwealth – without requiring significant government spending. Renewables provide long-term predictability to pricing and support a cleaner, more reliable electricity mix.”

Sharon Pillar, Executive Director of the PA Solar Center, said, “2020 was a tough year for so many Pennsylvanians on many levels, and we’re hoping this bill will help put us on the path to economic recovery.

“We thank Senator Laughlin and Senator Haywood for their inspiring leadership on this issue and for introducing this bill.

“Not only would increasing our goals attract millions of dollars in private investment to Pennsylvania and grow tens of thousands of jobs, but it would create tax revenue for local communities, diversify our energy mix, and present a solution that may save some of our farms without the use of state revenues – all through the common-sense expansion of renewable energy.”

Kim Anderson, Field Organizer for the Evangelical Environmental Network, said, “I am excited about this bill which moves in the right direction in terms of embracing clean energy and making air cleaner to protect the health of our children, both born and unborn.”

“Solar energy means good jobs, cleaner air, and lower energy bills for Pennsylvanians,” said Elena Weissmann, Mid-Atlantic Regional Director of Vote Solar. “Increasing the solar and renewable energy goals across the commonwealth could not come at a more opportune time, with Pennsylvanians working hard to rebuild after the pandemic and ensure a more resilient future. This bill is a critical step towards a healthy economy and environment in Pennsylvania.”

"A sustainable future for Pennsylvania needs to be built on clean renewable generation," said Rob Altenburg, PennFuture's Senior Director for Energy and Climate. "Increasing and extending the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard is part of that. This will not only protect public health and the environment, but it will bring jobs and growth to Pennsylvania."

“Promoting renewable energy is a triple win for Pennsylvania: it’s good for our planet, good for our health, and good for our pocketbooks,” said David Masur, Executive Director of PennEnvironment. “It's time for Pennsylvania to finally be a regional leader in tapping into the renewable energy economy."

"Pennsylvanians in rural and urban communities across the Commonwealth want to go solar,” said Henry McKay, Pennsylvania Program Director of Solar United Neighbors. “They want to lower their electric bills and take control over how their energy is generated. By raising the value of solar renewable energy credits, a stronger AEPS will help more homeowners, businesses, houses of worship, and others afford a solar installation."

"The Senate bill is exactly the kind of policy Pennsylvania needs to move forward with a clean energy future while creating jobs and cutting pollution,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel of the Clean Air Council. “The renewable energy targets set by the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act back in 2004 have long needed updating, especially as neighboring states have surpassed Pennsylvania with more ambitious goals.  Rather than continuing to sacrifice billions of taxpayer dollars subsidizing the fossil fuel industry, Pennsylvania needs to fully embrace the environmental and public health benefits of clean energy leadership."

“Passage of this bill is an immediate tool to help Pennsylvania’s economic recovery,” said Anna Shipp, Executive Director, Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia (SBN). “Two of every three clean energy workers in Pennsylvania are employed by a small business with fewer than 20 employees. Nearly half of all clean energy jobs in the Commonwealth are in rural counties, and almost 80 percent are in the trades, construction, or manufacturing sectors. With strong policies like the AEPS, renewable energy will increase opportunities for small businesses in Pennsylvania to start, grow, and thrive; expand family-supporting jobs that advance the financial security of low-to-moderate income households across the Commonwealth; and improve community health outcomes for all.”

Republican Bills Opposing Solar

Several bills have been introduced by Republicans in the Senate to slow the growing move to solar by making it more expensive and burdening it with requirements no other energy generation sources have.

The bills included--

-- Bill Loads Up Solar, Renewable Energy Projects, Energy Efficiency Products With Unnecessary Bonding Requirements:  Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, introduced Senate Bill 284 that imposes new bonding requirements on solar electric generation, biomass, coal waste and other renewable energy projects of any type included in the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards. Read more here.

-- Bans State Support For Solar Energy Projects With Foreign Components: Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, announced plans last week to introduce legislation to prevent the state from supporting any solar energy projects using an foreign made or assembled components. Read more here.

-- Adding Solar Panels To Broken E-Waste Recycling Program: Senate Bill 530 (Dush-R- Jefferson) would require the recycling of solar panels through the broken state electronic waste recycling program to drive up solar energy costs.  Read more here.

-- Preempt Local Government From Requiring Climate-Friendly Energy Sources: Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, introduced Senate Bill 275 which would prohibit local governments from adopting requirements that new buildings use climate-friendly energy sources.  Read more here.

(Photo: 70-megawatt solar farm in Franklin County supported by Penn State University.)

Related Article:

-- Senators Laughlin, Haywood Announce Bipartisan Bill To Increase AEPS Solar Share To 5.5%

Related Articles This Week:

-- PA Conservative Energy Forum: Harvesting Pennsylvania Clean Energy 'Land & Liberty Coalition' Grassroots Initiative

-- Sen. Scavello Introduces Bill Authorizing Community Solar Projects; $2 Billion Worth Of Projects Waiting For It To Pass

-- House Committee Meets April 19 To Consider Bill Authorizing Solar Energy Subscriber Programs

-- Talen Energy Announces $2 Billion Joint Venture With Pattern Energy To Grow Renewable Energy Generation Portfolio

-- DEP Issues Report Assessing PA's Energy Storage Capacity For A Cleaner, More Resilient Electric Grid

-- Penn State Wind Energy Club Prepares To Compete In DOE Collegiate Wind Competition

-- Bradford White Water Heater Manufacturer, 5 Other PA Companies Receive 2021 EPA ENERGY STAR Partner Of Year Awards

-- DCED Awards Funding To Support Apprentice Program For Geothermal Energy Project Installation Training

-- PA Environmental Council: Reassessing Our Climate Footprint As An Organization

[Posted: April 12, 2021]


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