Senate hearing discusses energy access, affordability

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The state Senate Majority Policy Committee recently held a hearing in Pittsburgh to discuss energy access and affordability.

The hearing also discussed grid reliability. Speakers testified about three subjects.

Lauren Connelly from the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and Jeff Kotula from the Washington County Chamber of Commerce testified on exploring Pennsylvania’s energy portfolio and market.

Dave Callahan from the Marcellus Shale Coalition, Leslie Elder from Summit Ridge Energy, and Shawn Steffee from Boilermakers Local 154 testified on energy production and transportation to end users.

Jennifer Coyne from The Barnes Global Advisors, Chuck DiBello from Allegheny Health Network, and John Krolicki from UPMC testified on the impact of governmental barriers on the cost to end users.

“If electricity demand spikes in Philadelphia, but short-sighted environmental policies have forced fossil fuel plants into nonexistence, there are fewer reliable energy sources to shoulder the burden,” state Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Bradford), Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee chairman, said. “We need a secure, reliable electric grid.”

PJM, a regional transmission organization for 13 states and the District of Columbia, coordinates the flow of electricity to local utilities.

“The impact on our base load was glaringly brought to light just a few weeks ago when for the first time in recent history, and perhaps ever, PJM warned of possible rolling blackouts during the extreme cold period around Christmas,” Yaw said.