Sens. Haywood, Laughlin introduce renewable energy legislation

© Shutterstock

State Sens. Art Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia) and Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) introduced legislation Monday to promote economic development and generate jobs while supporting alternative energy production and use in Pennsylvania.

The proposed legislation would increase Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS) Tier 1 goal 18 percent by 2026, which legislators said would garner new investment and create new jobs while minimizing the impact on electric customers. Additionally, the legislation would require that 3.75 percent of that increase come from in-state grid scale solar (projects greater than 5Mw) and 1.75 percent come from in-state distributed solar.

“Given our current economic crisis due to COVID-19, we are introducing legislation that will promote the commonsense expansion of renewable energy,” said Laughlin. “These efforts will attract millions of dollars of private investment, grow tens of thousands of jobs, create tax revenue for communities, diversify our energy mix, and present a solution that may save some of our farms without the use of state revenues.”

The legislation would also limit the cost of Alternative Energy Credits (AEC) and provide for long-term contracting to minimize the impact to ratepayers while calling for a study of renewable energy storage. AEC trading is a market-based program that drives renewable energy investments into renewables based on supply and demand. Pennsylvania is currently on track to surpass its goal for renewable energy, which drives pricing.

With the provisional AEPS program expiring in May 2021, without the adjustment to the legislation, surrounding states would be able to outperform Pennsylvania in economic development. New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, New York, and most New England states have AEPS goals of 50 percent by 2030, while Virginia enacted a law last year calling for 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

“Renewable energy creates jobs, saves farmers, and can help us to save the planet,” Haywood said. “We believe strongly that this proposal could be one of the largest economic development and job stimulus bills in decades.”