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.”
Source: Pennsylvania Division of the Solar Energy Industries Association
LEGISLATION TO RAISE ALTERNATIVE ENERGY STANDARDS ADVANCES
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.