Tuesday, June 29, 2010

House Bill 2405

June 29, 2010

Dear Friends,

I wish I had better news to share on the fate of House bill 2405. Despite our efforts, the bill will not pass before summer legislative recess. Moments ago, it was announced that the House and Senate Democrats and Republicans, and the Governor agreed to a budget which will allow the legislators to pass a budget on time. In turn, that means that it is not likely legislators will stay around to pass any pending legislation not associated with the budget including HB 2405.

Many of you followed the ups and down of this bill and its predecessor (HB 80) over the last year and one-half and understand when I tell you the bill got amended to death, not once, but twice. The coal industry, the PA. Chamber of Commerce, most of the utilities, the Commonwealth Foundation and their allies all fed the disinformation campaign carried out by their legislative allies in the House. We knew we were up against powerful, well-funded allies but we have prevailed on three solar bills in the recent past and my hope was we could do it again.

We owe much to our allies at DEP; particularly John Hanger, Andrew Place, Robert Maiden, Dan Griffiths and Paula Sviben and in the legislature; Representatives Eugene DePasquale, Greg Vitali and Chris Ross, and in the Senate; Senator Ted Erickson.

I hope you will take the time to thank them. They did an amazing amount of work on this bill.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Sharp Solar's Letter of Support for HB 2405

Dear Representative,

Sharp Solar is one of the largest solar panel manufacturers in the world, with U.S. offices in New Jersey, California, and Tennessee. The solar factory in Memphis, Tennessee employs a diverse workforce of 500 people and has experienced significant growth over the last year, increasing employment by 50%. Our business was growing in the middle of a recession due to high demand created by incentives provided by state and federal governments. The solar incentives provided by Pennsylvania contributed to this demand, creating hundreds of jobs at our factory and other offices, and also within the dozens of Sharp dealers and contractors in the state.

We are writing to encourage your support for House Bill 2405 and the solar provisions in the bill that encourage long term contracts, increase the solar requirement, and set a firm alternative energy compliance payment at this time when rebates and other incentives are mostly fully subscribed.
Unemployment remains high, and Sharp is committed to increasing jobs both at our plant but also by using local, Pennsylvania based solar installers. Accelerating the solar requirement from 0.5% to 3.0% of total electricity sales by 2025 and other provisions help move the solar industry to a market based, competitive clean energy source with well paid local jobs, enhanced economic development benefits, increased tax revenues, and timely development of locally sourced low-carbon energy.

We hope that you will help us continue this impressive growth and vote in favor of House Bill 2405 now while we are making decisions where Sharp will be focusing our efforts.


Andrew J. Johnson
Senior Manager, Policy and Government Relations

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Solar Thermal Letter Opposing Hutchinson Amendment

June 21, 2010

As business leaders in the Pennsylvania Solar Thermal industry, we applaud the Pennsylvania legislature for including SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Credits) for Solar Thermal in the PA House Bill 2405 for Clean Energy and Green Jobs and we want to express our support for passage of the original HB 2405 bill.

We also request that you vote NO to the Hutchinson Amendment that among other damaging languages, removes the value of Solar Thermal from the bill.

There are 174 solar thermal installers registered with DEP in Pennsylvania and we strongly support House bill 2405 which will help our businesses to grow and survive with good local jobs that can’t be shipped to other countries or to other states. Solar thermal systems cut fossil fuel use and are a hedge against volatile electric, gas and oil prices.

Several major solar collectors are currently made in the US although China holds 70% of the market share, Europe has 15%, and the U.S. has less than 1%. Furthermore, of the 29 states with Renewable Portfolio Standards, 12 include solar thermal in their portfolio in part due to the following reasons:

Reduce the costs rate-payers bear from the Renewable Portfolio Standard

1. Jobs. There are 129 solar thermal businesses registered in Pennsylvania - all of which will be directly impacted by this amendment. Furthermore, solar thermal installations are very labor intensive often requiring system engineers, panel installers, plumbers, welders and carpenters, and roofers; and many tradesman, such as plumbers, are adding solar thermal services as a means to increase revenue during these hard economic times.

2. Low Cost AEPS Compliance. Solar thermal provides a lower cost solution for achieving Pennsylvania AEPS solar carve-out requirement. Solar thermal is the most cost effective solar energy source and can reduce compliance cost.. Therefore, the dollar cost that Pennsylvania utilities need to pass along to consumers is lower meaning rates also will remain lower. While we do not advocate one technology over the other as a robust blend of solar technologies will make it plausible for Pennsylvania to achieve its solar goals.

3. Reduced Energy Costs. Solar thermal systems are a hedge against volatile electric, gas and oil prices potentially reducing 50% - 80% of water heating costs and this is a technology accessible to low income and low margin-business customers.

4. Greater constituent participation in the AEPS. Because solar thermal is such a cost effective solar technology, more Pennsylvania residents and businesses can actively participate in the AEPS. Adding solar thermal to a home may improve the home value should the home be sold. Once the solar system is paid for, there are no fuel costs, which means lower bills for consumers.

5. Environmental Benefits. RETScreen estimates that each 4 x 10 solar hot water heating panel installed can eliminate up to 2 tons of carbon dioxide each year. NREL (National Renewable Energy Labs) estimates that solar thermal can eliminate the equivalent of 50 – 75 million metric tons of CO2 emissions reductions nationwide annually.

6. Solar Thermal does not create any incremental cost for this bill and reduces the need for tax-payer funded incentives. This bill will help Pennsylvania’s solar thermal industry transition away from costly state funded programs to market based incentives. (http://www.thestreet.com/story/10711028/1/shelter-from-solars-political-storms-is-new-jersey.html

Sincerely from the following Solar Thermal installers in PA:

Jan Marie Rushforth
Partner, Rushforth Solar LLC - Member of PA SEIA
Jan@RushforthSolar.com - www.RushforthSolar.com
3700 Darby Road, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010


Bob Elwell
Hickory Ridge Solar


Adam Rossi
Adam Solar Resources
1912 Mayview Road Bridgeville PA 15017
412-220-1900 Office
412-334-6519 Cell



Mike Healy

Skyline Innovations
2451 18th Street
Second Floor
Washington, DC 20009

Mark Bortman
Exact Solar -- Harness the Power of the Sun!

William H Fitch III
1072 Fowlersville Rd
Berwick, PA 18603

Karen Foltz
General Manager
Vox Energy Solutions
8890 Peebles Road
Allison Park, PA 15101
Phone - 412-366-4361
Fax - 412-366-4362


John Collins
Certified Energy Consultant
H.B. McClure
600 S. 17th St
Harrisburg, Pa 17104
Office (717)214-3169
Fax (717)2149218
Cell (717)554-2528


Bryan Elwell
Hickory Ridge
O: (610)-845-9360
C: (215)-519-2111

HB2405, if passed (minus the Hutchinson Amendment) will tremendously help solar hot water growth in PA, adding to local job creation, energy savings, and emission reductions. It makes sense on many levels. Please vote for it.

Alan Rushforth
Rushforth Solar LLC
3700 Darby Road
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

HB2405 Update, Calls Needed!

Many of you are probably aware of House Bill 2405's recent progress in the PA government and that there was a possibility of it being voted on the floor (second consideration) this past Tuesday (yesterday). Unfortunately, the bill was not voted on yesterday due to the fact that the Bill does not have enough votes to pass. Also, due to new damaging amendments, the bill's passage is in jeopardy. In better news, the Bill did pass out of appropriations committee favorably with a vote of 28 to 5. However, if the bill is going to pass this session, it must reach the floor in the next week or two. Now more than ever we need to ramp up our efforts. We need your phone calls today and probably until the end of this week to see if we can get it through the House and over to the State Senate. Calls are coming from the opposition.

-So please, if you have a Representative in Pennsylvania, call them

-If you met with any Representative at one of our lobby days, call them

-If you have a project in Pennsylvania, please call the Representative of that district

-If you are able to, please inform your clients about the Bill and encourage them to call their Representatives as well

To look up a Representative of an area, please use this link: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/find.cfm .

Thank you and please act NOW,
Drew Gardner on behalf of PASEIA

Letter from Mayor of Pittsburgh in Support of HB2405

More Press for HB2405 Push


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).


Thursday, June 17, 2010

HB2405 Vote Scheduled for Tuesday!!

Next Monday, there will be a counting of votes for House Bill 2405. If they feel that there are enough votes for the bill, then the bill will be voted on (Second Reading) this upcoming Tuesday. It is more important than ever for you to call the Representatives you have met with to get their support for HB2405 so that it can be voted on NOW!

Thank you,
Drew Gardner on behalf of PASEIA

Friday, June 11, 2010

Coal Talking Points

Use these points to counter arguments that coal is making against solar:

1) PA exports 50% of its coal (from EIA); HB2405 will have no impact on that export business.

Wind and solar are intermittent resources which do not compete with baseload plants like coal. Solar competes with peak power plants, which are natural gas or oil fired plants. Coal plants are baseload power, and baseload will not be impacted by this bill.

3) Wind and coal co-exist just fine – look at TX. TX is the #1 user of coal in the US, and also the #1 state for wind generation. In addition, brownfields sites are perfect locations for solar farms.

PA is #4 in the US in using coal as a source of electricity and #2 in the US for nuclear. The real threat to coal is nuclear and maybe gas at some point!

Renewables have nothing to do with the slide in coal demand – according to coal industry’s own data (Capital Watch), coal peaked in 1918. Today only 25% of the peak is mined (65 million tons/year in 2007 vs. 277 million tons/yr in 1918). Yet, according to DOE, electricity growth in PA. is expected to increase by 1.1% each year.

Coal is almost 55% of Pennsylvania’s current generation. Nuclear is over 30% . Even if solar is phased in to 3% by 2024, that is a very small fraction of Pennsylvania’s energy resource.

Like any investment, it is important to diversify the portfolio (think of retirement accounts), would you put almost all your money into one of two stocks? Think of coal and nuclear as the dominant energy sources in PA and that won’t change during the lifetime of this AEPS requirement.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

PASEIA Lobby Days

This past Monday and Tuesday (June 7th and June 8th) were PASEIA's HB2405 lobby days. There were 22 meetings scheduled with 21 Representatives over the two days, and about 15 Pennsylvania (and a few out of Pennsylvania) Solar Businesses made it out! Everyone lobbied for the bill quite successfully, and we were able to generate additional support from the Representatives for the bill. And we are happy to inform you that the bill passed out of committee Tuesday morning! Please see the ERE Committee Vote blog entry for more information on the committee vote. We still have a ways to go to pass this bill, but it is now clear that our efforts are truly making a difference. Thank you to all of the people that were at the lobby days, and we will be sure to notify you soon about our next lobbying efforts.

-Drew Gardner on behalf of PASEIA

(This last picture is sarcastic, obviously)

Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Votes on HB2405

The following is a list of the Representatives in the ERE committee with their respective votes on HB2405 when it was voted out of committee Tuesday morning. Please consider calling the Yes Representatives to thank them and/or calling the No Representatives to try to generate support for the Bill.

Rep. D/R Vote
B. George D Y
J. Hornaman D Y
M. Gerber D Y
T. Harhai D Y
J. Yudichak D Y
S.E. Hutchinson R N
M. Gabler R N
M.T. Causer R N
G.D. Everett R Y
J.P. Pyle R N
B. Barbin D N
M. Carroll D Y
S.H. Conklin D Y
E. DePasquale D Y
T. Houghton D Y
D.R. Kessler D Y
S.J. Santarsiero D Y
T. Seip D Y
G. Vitali D Y
J. Wansacz D Y
J. Christiana R N
K. Harper R Y
K.L. Rapp R N
D. Reed R N
C. Ross R Y
R. Vulakovich R N

Rep. Cutler Amendment (Need Calls to the Rep.)

An important matter has just come to our attention. Most of you are probably unaware that House Bill 2234 which allows solar in homeowner associations that have restricted solar on the past, passed out of ERE committee last week. It apeears this bill could be taken up by the full House in the very near future BUT Rep. Cutler (717-783-6424 in Harrisburg and 717 786 4551 in District or http://www.repcutler.com/Contact.aspx for letters) has a very damaging amendment which would virtually kill the intent of the bill by grandfathering in all existing restrictive homeowner covenants. We need calls into Cutler's office and ask him to withdraw his amendment if it comes up for a House vote. The amendment is attached. The bill is available at www.legis.state.pa.us , go to general session, and in the right hand cover enter HB2234 to see the bill. Also, please see other states facing the same policy issue and attempts to remove this barrier to solar deployment: http://solar.coolerplanet.com/News/19777073-states-acting-to-head-off-solar-panel-bans.aspx

-Drew Gardner on behalf of Maureen Mulligan and PASEIA

Press & Media for the HB2405 Push

Solar Installers Urging Pennsylvania House of Representatives To Vote For Alternative Energy Legislation, House Bill 2405

500 Solar Companies Are Standing Ready To Help More Homeowners and Businesses Better Control Their Electricity Costs

HARRISBURG, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Companies striving to build a stronger solar energy industry throughout Pennsylvania are converging on Harrisburg to persuade lawmakers to pass House Bill 2405 by sharing personal stories and demonstrating the role that tax incentives and state grants are playing in creating new, sustainable, good-paying jobs and helping homeowners and businesses better control their electricity costs.

“We’ve made valuable progress with the state’s alternative energy requirement, the Federal Investment Tax Credit and the state’s Sunshine solar grant program,” said Kira Costanza of SunPower Builders based in Collegeville, PA. “Reducing carbon emissions in an energy economy heavily dependent on fossil fuels takes time. House Bill 2405 helps the state with the necessary next steps to do what many neighboring states are doing by boosting their commitments to renewable energy and enabling consumers to generate some of their own electricity.”

House Bill 2405 is expected to be voted on in committee next Tuesday, June 8th. “Time is running short in this legislative session to pass this timely energy legislation for Pennsylvania. Due to the success of the federal and state solar incentive programs, the solar industry needs the requirement for utilities and electric generation suppliers to purchase renewable energy be increased to match the supply of projects waiting to be developed while there are still incentives to help bring down the cost,” said Maureen Mulligan, a lobbyist for the two key solar trade associations active in Pennsylvania. HB#2405’s principal focus is on advancing coal combustion technologies that reduce carbon dioxide emissions. But it also would set the fee utilities must pay if they do not sell a requisite amount of electricity generated by renewable sources such as solar and wind. Those fees can help sustain renewable energy programs in the Commonwealth.

For each 1,000 kilowatt hour shortfall, the fee, called an alternative compliance payment, would be $450 in 2011, and decline 3% percent annually. In addition, HB 2405 would enhance the role that Alternate Energy Credits would play in helping finance renewable energy projects. A solar system earns one Alternate Energy Credit for each 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity it generates. Those credits can be sold for cash, in some cases in advance based on projected generation to help defray up-front installation costs.

Just last month, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed a new solar bill into law that boosts the state’s ability to achieve its 20% renewable electricity mandate by 2022 (2% from solar) with a compliance payment set at $400 through 2014. This month, Delaware is expected to pass legislation that could set the compliance fee at $500 and raise the amount of electricity to be generated from renewable sources to a region-leading 25% by 2025, with 3.5% of that coming from solar. As with other states, Maryland and Delaware are incentivizing in-state solar projects designed and installed by companies in their states. Under this bill, Pennsylvania would also restrict projects to those built within the state and would increase the solar share from .5% to 3%.

The twenty solar businesses organized by PA Solar Energy Industries Association, who will be attending legislative meetings in Harrisburg next week, will be discussing the benefits of passing HB 2405 before the legislature recesses for the summer and will hand out a one-page summary of testimonials by solar energy professionals who attribute their growth to past legislative actions that promoted solar energy.

“Before the Pennsylvania Sunshine solar grant program began, there were about 15 certified solar installation companies in Pennsylvania. Today there are more than 500. And many of those employ more than 10 employees,” said Ron Celentano, a solar expert and troubleshooter in Wyndmoor, PA who chairs the Pennsylvania Division of the Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association. “That is a testament to the job engine that the solar industry is becoming throughout the Commonwealth.”


Pennsylvania Division of the Solar Energy Industries Association
Maureen Mulligan, 717-512-5365
SunPower Builders
Kira Costanza, 610-489-1105

Source: Pennsylvania Division of the Solar Energy Industries Association


-News from the House Democrats-


HARRISBURG, June 8 - State Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-York, said that his bill to strengthen Pennsylvania's Clean Energy Act today was reported out of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, with a bipartisan vote of 17-9.

DePasquale said his legislation, HB2405, would significantly boost the amount of energy in Pennsylvania derived from cleaner, alternative energy sources. This shift would help create manufacturing jobs in the Commonwealth and provide enough clean energy to power 2.1 million homes.

"The bipartisan support shown for this bill today proves the value placed in maintaining and improving our alternative energy standards," DePasquale said. "We must reinforce our position as an alternative energy leader in order to maintain competitiveness in terms of job growth and investments in this field."

DePasquale said his legislation would strengthen the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act of 2004 by requiring 28 percent of Pennsylvania's energy come from clean sources by 2024; the current requirement is 18 percent by 2020. It would nearly double the share of energy that must come from the cleanest sources by requiring 15 percent - increased from 8 percent - of energy be derived from wind, low-impact hydro, geothermal, biologically derived methane gas, fuel cells, biomass energy, coal mine methane and solar. This includes a six-fold increase in the solar requirement from 0.5 to 3 percent.

In addition, this legislation would provide a pathway for cleaner coal technologies by requiring 3 percent of energy come from carbon capture and sequestration. This would allow coal to be used in a way that is better for our environment while maintaining critically important industry jobs in southwestern Pennsylvania, DePasquale said.

Consumers also would be protected in this legislation by requiring the state Public Utility Commission to delay the alternative energy requirements by the utilities if it determines the cost of compliance is too high or there isn't enough alternative energy ready for the grid.

This legislation also would build upon DePasquale's Alternative Energy Investment Act of 2008, which invested $650 million into alternative energy resources. That law provides consumers and businesses with low-interest loans for geothermal, wind and solar installation, creating alternative energy manufacturing jobs across the state all while saving consumers money and boosting Pennsylvania's economy.

HB2405 is expected to go before the full House for a vote.