|It has come to my attention that Pennsylvania law lacks any minimum standards for host agreements between power plants and their surrounding communities, so I will be introducing legislation to do just that. Although opinions on energy exploration and production vary and are often deeply held, we should all be able to agree on the following:
The host fees and environmental safeguards I am proposing would provide much needed predictability for both host communities and power plant developers, thus avoiding an often-contentious process at the local level while, at the same time, adequately compensating and protecting residents. This bill will also require opportunities for the citizens of the host municipality, school district and county to provide meaningful input into any host agreement negotiated with the owner of a power plant subject to this legislation.
- our citizens deserve clean air and safe water;
- we must support the transition to increasingly-cleaner sources of energy;
- we should continue to reduce our dependency on foreign fossil fuels;
- we enjoy the heat and light in our homes often produced by natural gas; and,
- our communities deserve to be adequately compensated for the impact of energy production.
While this bill would require that minimum payments be made to host municipalities, school districts and counties where plants are sited, it would also set parameters on how political subdivisions could spend monies that are collected. Host municipalities would receive a minimum upfront payment of $1,000 per megawatt and a minimum annual payment of $700 per megawatt. Host counties would receive a minimum upfront payment of $200 per megawatt and a minimum annual payment of $500 per megawatt. School districts would receive a minimum annual payment of $500 per megawatt. The Department of Environmental Protection would receive an annual fee of $300 per megawatt to cover its expenses for administering this program, and for developing air and water quality monitoring programs in consultation with the host municipality and county – perhaps the most critical component of this proposal.
Host community uses for the proceeds include, but are not limited to:
To be clear, the provisions of this bill lay out a minimum set of standards. Local governing boards and power plant developers are free to negotiate standards that go beyond the floor set by this legislation. The lack of host agreement standards was revealed to me during the recent construction of a 1,500 megawatt power plant – a source of great division within a local community I now represent. Companion legislation will be offered in the Senate by Senator John Blake because of our mutually-impacted constituency. It is our hope that other host communities may avoid the division I referenced.
- Road, bridge and public infrastructure projects
- Sanitary sewer system and stormwater management projects
- Environmental programs including recreation, open space, flood plain management, conservation districts and agricultural preservation
- Tax reductions, including homestead exclusions (property taxes)
- Delivery of emergency and social services
- Energy assistance to low-income households
Please join me in cosponsoring this important measure that will protect communities while still enabling responsible energy production.