Renewable Energy Legislation to Revive PA Economy

A coalition of organizations has rendered their support for the new renewable energy bill that was introduced by Senator Art Haywood and Senator Daniel Laughlin. The legislation will help to harness the power of renewable energies like solar, which will put Pennsylvania back on the road to economic recovery.

The senator’s bill will amend the 2004 Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) Act to increase PA’s renewable energy goal from 8% to 18% by 2026. 5.5% (from the current 0.5% goal) of renewable energy is set to come from solar energy.

When introducing the legislation, Senator Laughlin said that it will help expand renewable energy given that the economy is in a crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He went on to say that the efforts will diversify the energy mix, attract private investments worth millions of dollars, create tens of thousands of jobs, and grow tax revenue for communities.

He also said that this may offer a solution that can save farms in PA without necessarily using state revenues. Similarly, Senator Haywood said that renewable energy grows jobs, saves farmers, and can do a lot to save the planet. He added that the proposal may be one of the largest job stimulus and economic development bills in decades.

Renewable energy is one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation. When compared to the statewide job growth rate of 1.9%, jobs in the renewable energy industry grow at a rate of 8.7%.

Nearly 5,200 jobs have been created in this industry since the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard Act was passed in 2004. PA renewable energy projects have created jobs for engineers, technicians, construction workers, manufacturers, salespeople, and more.

Finding Pennsylvania Solar Future Project estimates that more than 100,000 jobs will be created by 2030 should the portion of solar in the state’s electricity mix increase from the current 0.5% to 10%. Consequently, this will benefit the economy with a net of $1.6 billion annually.

Here is what some of the coalition members had to say:

Sharon Pillar, who is PA Solar Center’s Executive Director said that there is a high expectation for the bill to put back PA on the road to recovery after the hard times experienced in 2020. She also thanked the two senators for introducing the bill and providing inspiring leadership on renewable energy.

Kim Anderson, Evangelical Environmental Network’s field organizer said that he is excited about the bill. Anderson said that the bill moves in the right direction when it comes to embracing cleaner energy and air to protect the health of both born and unborn children.

Executive Director of PennEnvironment, David Masur said that promoting renewable energy gives a triple win for PA. He said that it is good for the health, pocketbooks, and the planet. David further said that it was about time PA became a regional leader when it comes to tapping into the renewable energy economy.

Pennsylvania Program Director at Solar United Neighbors, Henry McKay said that Pennsylvanians in both urban and rural communities in the entire Commonwealth prefer to go solar. He said that they want to decrease their electric bills and be in charge of how their energy is generated.

Henry said that increasing the value of solar renewable energy credits will contribute to a stronger AEPS that will enable more businesses, homeowners, and places of worship to afford solar installation.