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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: March 23, 2021 04:17 PM
From: Representative Christopher B. Quinn and Rep. Dianne Herrin
To: All House members
Subject: Job Stimulus and Economic Development Growth Through Renewable Energy (Former HB2855)
Given the current economic crisis following the COVID-19 pandemic, we as a state must work to create new, well-paying jobs, increase investment in local development, increase our local tax base and save family farms. Therefore, we are introducing legislation that will expand renewable energy in Pennsylvania.

Sadly, Pennsylvania continues to lose family farms across our Commonwealth. In fact, in 2019 alone, we lost 5,000 farms across the state. This is unacceptable, but fortunately solar energy presents a unique opportunity for farmers to lease a portion of their land to renewable energy companies for 20 years or more, while still allowing pollen-generating crops to be planted to keep surrounding farmland viable.

Beyond solar farms, distributed generation (rooftop solar projects) allows business and homeowners to benefit from large savings caused by lower energy costs. Creative financing can also drastically decrease installation costs and in some cases eliminate them completely.

For both distributed generation and large-scale operations on farms, Alternative Energy Credits (AECs) allow financing to work better and faster for customers. AECs are a market-based approach that depends upon supply and demand. As goals for renewable energy are met and nearly met, the demand slows.

Pennsylvania is nearing its current renewable energy development goals as outlined in the current Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS)and will flatline in May of 2021. Without a change in the law to increase AEPS, we will lose out on valuable economic development that other states are experiencing. Most surrounding states are out-competing Pennsylvania. Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and most New England states have goals of 50% by 2030. On April 12, 2020, Virginia enacted a law for 100% clean energy by 2050.

Our legislation would propose the following:
  • A more modest increase in Pennsylvania’s AEPS Tier I goal – 18% by 2025 - that will still spawn new investment and create jobs while minimizing impacts to all electric customers;
  • Require 3.75% (of the 18%) comes from in-state grid-scale solar (i.e., projects greater than 5 MW) and that 1.75% comes from in-state distributed solar (i.e., rooftop solar projects that are connected to the distribution grid); and
  • Limit the cost of the AECs and provides for long-term contracting – minimizing impacts to ratepayers - and calls for a study of renewable energy storage.
Making this gradual increase to our AEPS will enable Pennsylvania to benefit from a large market of economic development and we must work towards that goal. We hope you will join us in supporting this important legislation.

Introduced as HB1080