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04/23/2024 01:18 AM
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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: March 26, 2024 01:47 PM
From: Representative James B. Struzzi, II and Rep. Aaron D. Kaufer, Rep. Jonathan Fritz, Rep. Mike Cabell, Rep. Joe Hogan, Rep. Clint Owlett, Rep. Eric R. Nelson
To: All House members
Subject: Energy Affordability Legislative Package
Over the past few years, Pennsylvania families have all felt the strain of rising costs and record inflation. A major component of that strain can be attributed to ever-rising energy costs. Pennsylvanians of all income levels are struggling to afford basic necessities such as food and clothing. Now, due to failed energy policies at the federal and state levels, they are struggling to afford to heat their homes and turn their lights on.
We agree that Pennsylvania should not be losing out to neighboring states. However, in order to remain competitive it must be more affordable to live and work in the Commonwealth. Not only do existing restrictive energy policies work against meaningful clean energy environmental goals, but they hurt our economy and the wallets of families all across Pennsylvania, as well as increasing the probability of greater blackouts. In short, they hurt our state and our overall competitiveness.
We are acutely aware of the strain these energy costs put on Pennsylvania’s households and small businesses and are committed to advancing ideas that will keep more money in the pockets of hardworking Pennsylvanians’ while also promoting energy reliability, sustainability and independence.
We hope you will join us in co-sponsoring this legislation:

Document #1

Description: Document #1 (Rep. Kaufer) Repurpose Act 129 dollars
For program year 2023, approximately $529 million dollars were used for energy efficiency and conservation programs under Act 129. The metrics for how effective these dollars are have remained stagnant for the past few years. Since energy costs have been hitting consumers especially hard, this legislation would better repurpose those dollars by having them flow back to energy bill payers as a negative surcharge.

Document #2

Description: Document #2 (Rep. Fritz) – Create an Independent Energy Advocate within DEP
Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has consistently produced regulations and policies that impact our ability to produce electricity while only them with a narrow argument in favor of the specific regulation at hand. This has been done without considering broader energy implications. Mandating an independent energy advocate within the Department to be tasked with protecting grid reliability and energy affordability would improve this.  The advocate should be appointed by the Governor and require Senate confirmation and must approve any DEP action that would impact PA’s energy portfolio.

Document #3

Document #3 (Rep. Cabell) – Allow pre-tax dollars to be utilized for energy bills
Modeled after a 529 plan or a Health Savings Account, this bill would permit energy bills to be paid with pre-tax dollars. This would be accomplished by allowing for a direct deposit system from an employer that could be utilized for eligible expenses, such as electric bills, natural gas bills, heating oil, or other energy-related use.

Document #4

Description: Document #4 (Rep. Hogan) – Extend the Property-Tax Rent Rebate program to account for utility costs
The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program provides critical financial relief for low-income senior citizens and disabled individuals. The current program only reflects the costs of property taxes and rent paid, but ever-increasing utility costs can just as easily cause these claimants to lose their homes. Under this proposal, utility costs will be included in the determination of the amount of relief provided to claimants, within the existing income eligibility and claimant amount parameters.

Document #5

Description: Document #5 (Rep. Owlett) – Re-name the DEP to the Department of Environmental Services
Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection clearly has a culture problem as it seems that the Department often sees themselves as being a necessary barrier to the expansion of business and development in PA. A shift in thinking is necessary and changing the name of the Department is a good start down this road.

Document #6

Description: Document #6 (Rep. E. Nelson) – KOZ for new energy facilities on shuttered energy sites
Many communities across the Commonwealth are home to now-shuttered energy production facilities, several of which have closed in the wake of the former and current Governor’s pursuit of entering the Commonwealth into RGGI. These communities need new jobs and these sites need to placed back into productive use. Under this proposal, former energy production sites would be eligible to be designated as Keystone Opportunity Zones, which will incentivize the redevelopment of these locations.

Document #7

Description: Document #7 (Rep. Struzzi) – Create a new independent agency for the promotion of energy development in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania doesn’t have any entity that broadly looks at our power needs to ensure that all actions within the state are geared towards promoting affordable, reliable energy. A new, independent agency would have an ideal perspective to facilitate these pivotal goals. The head of the new entity would require Senate confirmation and would be charged with approving any regulation or action of a state agency that would impact PA’s energy portfolio.

Document #8

Description: Document #8 (Rep. Hamm) – Direct the entrance of Pennsylvania into a power-exporting state consortium within the PJM footprint
This would direct an official entry into a specific stakeholder group for a subset of PJM.  Currently, the bulk of energy exporting within PJM is done by Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. Though there are many other states in PJM, our three states are the most crucial, because we actually keep the lights on throughout the grid. This would empower Pennsylvania’s interests by allowing the three states to speak as a more unified voice before PJM.

Document #9

Description: Document #9 (Rep. Struzzi) – Require government to show how regulations impact affordability for communities at risk for energy poverty
Rural and low-income citizens are the least able to afford increases in electric prices. This is completely unacceptable particularly when rising electric prices are attributable to changes in government regulations or policies. This legislation would amend the Regulatory Review Act to require that any regulation must include information about how the change may negatively impact electric prices.