PA commits to 80% by 2050; Joins U.S. Climate Alliance
Governor Wolf released the 2018 Climate Action Plan and announced that PA was the 24th state to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, committing to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2050 as called for in the Paris Agreement. The Climate Action Plan lays out a detailed series of initiatives including increased investment in energy efficiency, solar and wind energy; reduction in methane emissions; investment in electric vehicle infrastructure and many others. The Governor is also giving serious consideration to a carbon cap and trade program for Pennsylvania.
Carbon Cap & Trade Petition Advances
The Environmental Quality Board (EQB) voted 14 to 5 in favor of accepting a rulemaking petition to create a cap-and-trade program that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions economy wide in PA. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) now has 60 days to review the proposal and make a recommendation to the EQB about whether to adopt, reject, or modify the petition. The petition includes over 400 pages of draft regulations detailing how the program would work. Greenhouse gas emissions would be capped at 2016 levels. The cap would be reduced by 3% per year, putting PA on track to carbon neutrality by 2052. The regulations are based on the California carbon market rather than the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) which is more limited in scope. More detail can be found on Climate XChange and E&E News.
AEPS Bills Raise Renewables to 30% by 2030
Senators Haywood, Santasiero, and Killion cosponsored SB 600, a bi-partisan bill to increase Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) to 30% renewables by 2030, including 7.5% utility scale and 2.5% distributed solar. 10% solar will create 60,000 new jobs in PA. The bill calls on the PUC to study the benefits of a renewable energy storage program. The legislation would also provide for several protections that control costs for electricity customers, including long-term contracting, fixed ACP payments, and a 15-year lifetime limit for generating eligible SRECs for solar projects. A companion bill, HB 1195 has been introduced in the House. These improvements to the AEPS will enable PA to start to catch up to neighboring states whose renewable portfolio standards have become far more ambitious than PA’s in recent years.
Nuclear bills Ignite Storm of Controversy
HB 11 and SB 510, call for $500 million a year in subsidies to PA’s nuclear industry to maintain the status quo, touching off a storm of criticism. The Philadelphia Inquirer lays out the issues here.
Solarize Philly Phase 3 is Open
The nation’s largest Solarize program reopened on April 23. Solarize Philly ( solarizephilly.org ) is a group-buying program administered by the Philadelphia Energy Authority. The more residents who buy, the deeper the discounts. The Energy Authority selects reputable installers and ensures quality equipment. In addition, there is a job training program for students interested in careers in renewable energy.
The program offers financing. Homeowners also get a federal tax credit of 30 percent of a solar system’s cost. That credit continues until the end of this year, then drops to 26 percent in 2020, 22 percent in 2021, and expires entirely in 2022.
This year, for the first time, Solarize Philly is offering a lease option for qualifying residents to have solar installed, but lease it instead of owning. The installer would own the system and receive the tax credits. The homeowner would pay a small monthly fee.
Planet Philadelphia Commentary role debuts
Liz Robinson began her new role as a Clean Energy Commentary for the Pennsylvania Solar Energy Industries Association on Planet Philadelphia on April 19th with several members of the Sunrise Movement. She’ll be providing commentary on a monthly basis. You can listen to the podcast here: https://www.planetphiladelphia.com/
Community Solar Legislation Introduced
With strong bipartisan support and more than 52 cosponsors, Rep Kaufer (R) introduced HB 531, to enable Community Solar statewide. Community solar will provide access to clean, affordable solar electricity for the 70% of Pennsylvanians who currently do not have a suitable roof, who may not own their homes, or have the capital to invest. At a press conference on February 19th, Reps. Kaufer and Millard spoke about the importance of solar energy to all Pennsylvanians, and Rep. Bullock emphasized that this bill will bring solar energy within reach of low and moderate income people. The Senate is expected to introduce similar legislation very soon.
Solar and Wind now Cheaper than Coal
The coal industry has been hammered by low prices from the booming natural gas industry for a number of years. Now a recent study from Energy Innovation Policy and Technology finds that solar and wind are cheaper than most coal plants. This surely signals additional coal plant closures ahead.
Gov Wolf Announces Climate Initiative for PA
Pa is taking action on climate change with Gov. Wolf’s announcement to set the first-ever statewide goal to cut climate pollution.
Under the executive order signed by Governor Wolf, Pa will work toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2025, and 80 percent by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.
The GreenGov Council will work with all state agencies to reduce energy use in state government and improve the energy efficiency of state buildings and vehicles, saving taxpayers money in the process. The GreenGov Council will serve as a central coordinating body to promote the implementation of the executive order and the achievement of the following state agency performance goals:
Reduce overall energy consumption by 3 percent per year, and 21 percent by 2025, as compared to 2017 levels.
Replace 25 percent of the state passenger car fleet with battery electric and plug-in electric hybrid cars by 2025.
Procure renewable energy to offset at least 40 percent of the commonwealth’s annual electricity use.
“Commonwealth agencies can continue to demonstrate their commitment to both environmental and fiscal stewardship by implementing best practices to reduce energy and resource consumption, improve energy efficiency, realize cost savings, and protect the environment,” said Governor Wolf.
The GreenGov Council will encourage and coordinate the incorporation of environmentally sustainable practices into the commonwealth government's policy, planning, operations, procurement, and regulatory functions, and strive for continuous improvement in efficiency and performance.
The announcement comes at a time when Pa is feeling more harmful impacts from our changing climate, and comes on the same day it was reported that U.S. carbon emissions increased in 2018.
C-PACE in a Box
The final guidelines for the Commercial PACE Program have been issued. C-PACE is a great way to finance energy efficiency, renewable energy and water efficiency improvements on commercial buildings statewide. North Hampton Township becomes the first municipality in PA to adopt C-PACE!
Carbon Cap and Trade Petition Filed in PA
The Clean Air Council and more than 100 organizations statewide have filed a petition to the PA Environmental Quality Board calling on the Wolf administration to enforce the PA constitution by implementing an economy wide carbon cap and trade program. The petition includes detailed regulations that call for a cap to be placed on carbon, which would be lowered 3% a year. This would put PA on pace to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Accords and to reach carbon neutrality by the end of the 21st century.
To uphold the Environmental Rights Amendment enshrined in our state constitution, the petitioners urge Governor Wolf to promulgate regulations to implement an economy-wide carbon cap and trade program. The EQB approved the petition for further consideration at its April meeting.
Puerto Rico to become 100% Renewable by 2050
Puerto Rico joins a rapidly growing number of states, cities and territories to pass legislation requiring a transition to 100% solar, wind and other renewable energy by 2050. The legislation also expedites approvals of solar systems, and requires the island’s antiquated central grid to be broken up into microgrids.
PUC Final Order Closes PA Borders Finally!
The PA Public Utility Commission unanimously issued a final order confirming the intent of Act 40 to insure that the solar energy produced in order to meet the requirements of Pennsylvania's portfolio standard is in fact generated in state. This decision will lead to many more solar jobs all across the state. Thanks to Senator Scavello, Governor Wolf, and all those who worked tirelessly to make this happen.
JSS Teacher Receives Ignite STEM Grant !
Laura Hassan, a STEM teacher at Baldi middle school received a $2,000 Ignite STEM grant to help expand their STEM program. In addition to teaching middle school students physics, astronomy and solar energy, Hassan also teaches robotics. Hands on learning requires lots of classroom materials, so this grant is a perfect fit. Read more: https://www.phillytrib.com/news/local_news/c-c-a-baldi-science-teacher-wins-stem-grants/article_e5824f40-ddec-5294-9f3b-d9ef3fc220f3.html
TMI to Close by September 30, 2019!
Exelon Generation announced that Three Mile Island Generating Station Unit 1 (TMI) will shut down by Sept. 30, 2019, as previously announced in May 2017. With only three legislative session days remaining in May and no action taken to advance House Bill 11 or Senate Bill 510, it is clear a state policy solution will not be enacted before June 1, in time to reverse the premature retirement of the plant. Exelon will offer jobs to all TMI workers affected by the plant’s closure.