SB1171 Would Nearly Double Renewable Energy In Pennsylvania

Naturally, The GOP’s Gonna Hate It

On November 12, 2013, State Senator Daylin Leach [D-Montgomery/Delaware] introduced new Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS) legislation, SB1171, aimed at reducing Pennsylvania’s dependance on fossil fuels. Leach was flanked by State Representative Greg Vitali [D-Delaware], who is sponsoring companion legislation in the house (HB100), and Tom Schuster, who represented about 24,000 Sierra Club members in Pennsylvania.

SB1171 is already supported by the majority of economic and environmental stakeholders in the state, including Blue-Green Alliance, Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition and PennFuture. Makes sense, too, in this age of super storms and carbon thresholds, and given the fact that Pennsylvania is the third highest carbon producing state in the nation, right? Tell it to the Mayberry Machiavellians in Harrisburg, please.

What’s 8% Of Lame?

Under current state law, passed in 2007, Pennsylvania’s power generating utilities must acquire 8% of their energy from renewable sources. Last time I checked, natural gas was not considered a renewable in Pennsylvania, though in Texas the definition gets a little hazy.

Time, technology and other states have passed us by,” said to Leach to Kevin Gavin and Haldan Kirsch in PA Lags In Renewables, on 90.5 WESA NPR Pittsburgh on November 12, 2013.  

WESA reports that, presently, “According to the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission, hydroelectric accounts for 5% of the total electricity generated in Pennsylvania; wind—3% and solar—0.4%.  Coal-fired plants produce 34% of the commonwealth’s electricity.

Pennsylvania: Winning The Race To The Bottom

In the New York Times editorial, A New Alliance on Climate Change, published on November 13, 2013, editors praise California’s “ambitious plan aims to reduce emissions 80% by 2050 by requiring cleaner cars, more energy-efficient buildings and renewable fuels. Nine northeastern states have joined in a regional trading program aimed at reducing power-plant emissions.

Pennsylvania isn’t one of them.

More troubling is that fact that Pennsylvania is drastically “overshadowed” by nearby states in terms of its short and long term renewable energy goals – making the Keystone state, carbon-wise, the ugliest house on the block.

According to Matt Kasper in Pennsylvania Looks To Double Its Renewable Energy Standard, For Real This TimeThinkProgress, November 12, 2013, here’s how Pennsylvania stacks up to its neighbors:

Delaware: 25% by 2026 (3.5% solar)

Maryland: 20% by 20% by 2022 (2% solar)

New Jersey: 20.38% by 2021 (4.1% solar by 2028)

New York: 29% by 2015 (customer-sited incentives for solar)

Ohio: 12.5% by 2024 (0.5% solar)

Pennsylvania republicans, fueled by shale gas industry interests, will label any new standards “mandates” thus painting them simplistically as something bad. As is their wont, the GOP will shun the science and ignore the math.

But thanks to strong representation by Leach and Vitali, excellent journalism, and a few solar-powered calculators, we know that Pennsylvania will benefit from higher renewable energy standards, just as it has when we’ve raised them in the past.

Increasing [the] Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) is the most effective way for Pennsylvania to expand its production of renewable energy,” wrote Vitali in the OpEd, As I See It: Pennsylvania Must Shift To Renewable Energy published on PennLive, March 20, 2013.

One would hope, at the very least, some form of this common sense legislation will pass. Safer, green energy jobs will be created, and “mandates” like these tend to have a net positive impact on municipal tax bases. It’s worthwhile to note that despite Governor Corbett’s shoddy treatment of renewable initiatives since he took office in 2011, the renewables sector in Pennsylvania continues to move forward against all odds. In August 2013, the largest solar field in Pennsylvania went online in East Drumore, Lancaster County,  and rumor has it, it may soon be surpassed.

In reality, if not in Pennsylvania, every environmental group, health organization, labor union, and academic institution ought to get behind SB1171. Unlike all the pro-drilling, ALEC-generated legislation that has passed in Pennsylvania since republicans took the majority, SB1171 has something for everyone.

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Leach Introduces Alternative Energy Bill to Create Jobs, Protect Environment and Preserve Public Health

via SenatorLeach.com

HARRISBURG, November 12, 2013 – State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) today unveiled his new legislation that would amend Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards at a press conference held in the State Capitol Building.

“I’d like to thank my colleagues and fellow environmental stewards that joined me today in support of my Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards legislation,” Leach said. “By amending these standards, we will not only reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we’ll also make Pennsylvania competitive with neighboring states, create thousands of jobs, stimulate the economy with investment capital, protect our environment and preserve public health. Those are all investments that we need to make in our Commonwealth, and will make by passing this legislation.”

S.B. 1171, introduced last week, would require that electric energy distribution companies sell a larger percentage of electricity made up of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar photovoltaic. The standards have not been amended since 2007, and Leach said it is time that we update them and invest in Pennsylvania’s economy and environment.

Leach was joined at the press conference by environmental advocates who heralded his legislation.

Tom Schuster, Sierra Club Pennsylvania Campaign Representative, said, “We’re ready for Pennsylvania to once again lead the nation in clean, renewable energy development. Building more wind and solar power in our state will create jobs, grow our economy and help clean up the air our kids breathe. Our families deserve healthy air and a strong economy, and investing in clean energy for our homes and businesses can get us there.”

Leach added that S.B. 1171 would nearly double the amount of renewable energy generated in the state, including tripling the amount of solar power. A 2010 report by the Political Economy Research Institute and the Center for American Progress estimated that efforts focusing on production of renewable energy could create up to 2 million jobs nationwide.

The report stated, “Wind and solar photovoltaic industries provide at least 40 percent more jobs per dollar than coal. And, research from economist Dan Kammen shows that renewable energy has many more jobs per megawatt-hour than traditional energy sources. Second, by developing clean energy technologies, states will encourage innovation and new economic opportunities, a virtue unto itself.”

Additionally, the study noted that clean energy investments create 16.7 jobs for every $1 million in spending. In contrast, the report said, fossil fuel spending generates only 5.3 jobs for every $1 million spent. Clean energy investments create nearly 3 times more jobs for people with college degrees and nearly 4 times more jobs for people with high school degrees or only some high school education.

Other speakers at this morning’s press conference included Rep. Vitali, sponsor of companion bill HB 100; Tom Schuster from Sierra Club; Khari Mosely from Blue-Green Alliance; Bruce Burcat from Mid-Altantic Renewable Energy Coalition; and Christina Simeone from PennFuture.

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JOB-CREATING CLEAN ENERGY BILL INTRODUCED TO CUT POLLUTION, GROW ECONOMY

Amendment to Pa. Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) announced with support of energy companies, labor and environmental advocates

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Contact: Kim Teplitzky, 267-307-4707, kim.teplitzky@sierraclub.org

Harrisburg – Today State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) introduced a bill to amend Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards. He was joined by the Sierra Club, Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) and representatives of PennFuture, the BlueGreen Alliance and wind and solar industry leaders.

The new legislation (SB 1171) would nearly double the amount of renewable energy generated in the state, including tripling the amount of solar power installed. This would move Pennsylvania closer to the more aggressive standards that are spurring clean energy industry growth in neighboring states like Maryland, New Jersey and New York.

“Amending Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards is essential to creating jobs, protecting our environment and preserving public health. The benefits that our Commonwealth will see by updating these standards and thereby ensuring the use of more clean, renewable energy can not be understated,” said State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware). “I am proud to introduce this legislation, and I thank the supporters who joined me at the Capitol today to rally for this cause. I am hopeful that my colleagues in the General Assembly will see the need for this important legislation and will act with haste to make it law.”

“Nearly ten years ago our alternative energy standard made Pennsylvania one of the fastest growing markets for new wind and solar installations. Unfortunately, we’ve fallen behind and our clean tech industry has taken a hit. Now we have the opportunity to get back on track by building more wind and solar that will safely and reliably power our homes, lower energy costs and create thousands of new jobs at a time when we need them the most,” said Tom Schuster, Pennsylvania Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club.

“Increasing renewable energy lowers electricity costs for consumers, so Pennsylvania must do more to promote these clean energy resources.  Increasing our use of renewable energy protects families and businesses from rising fossil fuel costs while lowering the overall price of electricity, all while reducing pollution that negatively impacts public health,” said Christina Simeone Director of PennFuture’s Energy Center for Enterprise and the Environment.

“More renewable energy investments will result in cleaner energy sources that are better for public health, American energy independence, and our economic and environmental future. The added benefits of this bill are that it builds on President Obama’s comprehensive plan address climate change, which he introduced this summer. Pennsylvania can’t afford to miss out on the important opportunities this legislation would to provide,” said Khari Mosley, Regional Programs Manager for the BlueGreen Alliance.

“The Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) has worked well and has been a very effective piece of legislation as it has created jobs and provided needed investment in the communities where developers have sited their projects.  As a result of the AEPS, Pennsylvania ranks first in the Mid-Atlantic region for wind energy development, but a lot more can be done. There is no doubt that the citizens of Pennsylvania would receive additional benefits as a result of the passage of this bill,” said Bruce Burcat, Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition.

The standards have not been amended since 2007. Leach said that with this legislation, he aims to bring the standards up-to-date, create jobs, reduce pollution and invest in Pennsylvania’s future.

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