Tag: House Bill 2405
After the General Assembly punted on House Bill 2405 back in late June , the administration of retiring Governor Ed Rendell (photo), led by his Secretary of Environmental Protection, John Hanger, a growing number of lawmakers, and the fledgling solar industry serving the Commonwealth, now are rallying behind solar legislation in the closing ‘legislative days’ of this year’s General Assembly. Governor Rendell today signaled he is willing to sign what had been the solar provisions of House Bill 2405 — or something close to them — before the General Assembly finishes its scheduled work for 2010, probably in mid-October.
So why now and not back in June? 1) the solar legislation is not part of a bill that would have affected the powerful coal industry and logically, should not draw the ire of any significant lobbying organization unless they’re out to kill any and all renewables; 2) Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio and New York will have more robust commitments to solar by this time next year and Pennsyvlania needs to act to keep up or jump back into the lead in the regioinal sweepstakes for sustainable solar jobs, economic development and private, clean energy investment capital.
Watch out for efforts to classify electricity from nuclear power plants as “renewable.” Nuclear advocates almost got away with it in Arizona back in February and briefly tried similarly in Pennsylvania by amending 2405.
One of many key players in support of solar is Rep. Eugene DePasquale (second photo), whose re-election campaign this fall is focused on boosting PA’s green economy.
Keep an eye on this blog for updates. We at Standard Solar welcome feedback and what you’re hearing about the bill’s progress, its opponents and supporters. Simply email Standard Solar’s policy chief at email@example.com .
P.S. We could sure use the Nittany Lions’ offensive line to help get us into the endzone. Anybody have an such contacts in Happy Valley? How about a Penn State professor who supports more solar energy in the Commonwealth?
The conclusion of sessions in the Delaware and Pennsylvania legislatures offer a dynamic contrast to choices lawmakers made this summer to strengthen — or handicap — their clean energy economies. The Delaware General Assembly June 29 passed Senate Bill 119 to strengthen its Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard along with bills funding green energy programs and improving its “net metering” law while the Pennsylvania House of Representatives balked at House Bill 2405 to diversfy their energy sources with solar, among other incentives.
Proponents in each state — including Standard Solar – saw the opportunity and risk of not keeping up with states such as Maryland and Colorado to further incentivize purchases of solar electric systems. Delaware’s approach involved three separate bills (ergo the “hat trick”) under the leadership of Senator Harris McDowell. The Senate Bill 119 boosted its commitment to renewables to 13% of electricity sales by 2015, with 1% coming from solar. By 2025, that commitment rises to 25% of electricity sales with 3.5% from solar. Not bad for the nation’s First State.
Pennsylvania meanwhile tried an omnibus approach using one bill that attracted so many amendments (mostly from opponents) that House Bill 2405 failed of its own weight in the closing days. One amendment would have classified ‘new,’ additional generation from nuclear reactors as “renewable.” Had 2405 passed the House, it still would have needed to win passage in the Senate. The coal industry once again demonstrated considerable clout by arguing that any legislation for clean energy (including advanced coal technologies to reduce emissions) was a vote against traditional coal and therefore should be defeated. Even pro-solar Governor Ed Rendell, who leaves the Statehouse after 2010, could not persuade enough lawmakers to see the light.
The clean energy sweepstakes will be won by states that see the new good-paying jobs, stronger tax bases and cleaner environments as virtues that deserve to be incentivized long enough to continue driving down costs and attract significant private capital. It is truly surprising to see Pennsylvania, widely heralded as an early leader, ‘punt’ and fall back.
Opinion article in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Standard Solar’s Michael Jones calls for solar and energy diversity in Pennsylvania
Diversify Pa. energy sources – House Bill 2405 would spur new developments in renewables
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
By Michael Jones
Pennsylvania faces an important choice this week as the state House of Representatives takes up alternative-energy legislation. We can remain stuck in the past by letting the bill die or move faster into the future by diversifying Pennsylvania’s energy mix.
As someone who grew up in Pittsburgh and whose family co-founded the Jones & Laughlin Steel Co., I look back fondly on the role my family played in creating a pillar of our state and national economy. But there comes a time when all of us must look ahead and see how things must be done differently to assure our economic future. Cleaner sources of energy, including solar and wind, must be a part of that picture.
Consider the company I work for — Standard Solar Inc. — as one example of the economic and job-creating engine that solar energy is becoming. Since Pennsylvania in 2007 updated a law requiring electricity suppliers to sell a certain percentage of power generated by “alternative” fuels, a fledgling industry has sprouted throughout much of the state. Today, more than 500 companies like Standard Solar are certified to install solar electric and hot water systems in Pennsylvania. Back in 2008, Standard Solar had seven employees. With the growth in Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic region, we now have more than 75.
That growth, however, may soon slow to a crawl — and certainly would fall behind that of other states — if the Pennsylvania General Assembly does not pass legislation expanding the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard.
House Bill 2405 would enhance the development of “advanced coal combustion” technologies, with the goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and increase the percentage of the state’s electrical generation that comes from renewable sources of energy. It would set a goal of producing 15 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2025, with financial incentives for suppliers to meet their share of that goal.
We hear claims and counterclaims about how this legislation might affect the number of coal jobs vs. renewable-energy jobs. We can argue well into the night whose numbers are more accurate. But we need to ask ourselves: Do we want Pennsylvania to remain tethered to, and subsidizing, a heavily polluting fuel source while the rest of the world is moving in the opposite direction? Or do we want to devote a small portion of the types of incentives that got coal and nuclear power started to continue growing cleaner, healthier and, in the long run, more cost-effective ways to generate electricity?
We’re not talking about replacing coal. In fact, the legislation we support would help the coal industry remain competitive by helping it to become cleaner. I’m simply urging us to further diversify our sources of energy by increasing the percentage of those that are naturally clean and safe.
President Barack Obama visited Carnegie Mellon University earlier this month to outline a national plan that could put Pennsylvania in the front seat — maybe the driver’s seat — of the clean economy that’s beginning to emerge in the eastern United States. This legislation would help speed that process.
Pennsylvania was deeply involved in the startup of the nuclear and oil industries. Now we are poised to breathe new life into natural gas with Marcellus Shale projects in much of the state. Let’s do something similar for solar and renewables by passing HB 2405 and then getting it approved in the Senate and signed into law.
Michael Jones is the lead sales representative in Western Pennsylvania for Standard Solar Inc., which is based in Rockville, Md. (www.standardsolar.com).