PEC Statement on Alternative Energy Rollback Legislation

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The Pennsylvania Environmental Council believes that recently proposed legislation (House Bill 1912) aimed at repealing the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS) Act is misguided and would set back Pennsylvania’s energy future, result in job losses, and undermine gains in controlling air emissions (including greenhouse gases) across the Commonwealth.

Alternative energy sources play a vital role in our state’s economy.  New businesses have located here to support the growth in wind, solar, geothermal and related renewable energy industries since passage of the AEPS in 2004. The Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority has invested more than $10 million each year since 2004 in clean energy projects. The projects selected for 2010 alone are expected to create 1,400 jobs and generate a lifetime energy savings of 10.9 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Calls for eliminating the requirement for utilities to purchase renewable energy are publicly based on the argument that these sources should compete with traditional energy sources (coal, natural gas) in an open marketplace without government subsidies. But the truth is that fossil fuels have long enjoyed substantial subsidies and tax credits from state and federal government. As an example, a recent report by the Environmental Law Institute identified more than $25 billion in federal subsidies for coal production, transport, use and waste disposal for the period from 2002-2010. Despite record profits fossil fuels continue to benefit from taxpayer support, and will continue to do so. Repealing the AEPS is a thinly-veiled attempt to further support fossil fuels.

The reality is that fossil fuels will continue to play a major role in our energy mix for years and decades to come. Even so, Pennsylvania needs renewable energy sources to remain competitive in the global economy, reduce its considerable carbon footprint from the combustion of fossil fuels, and provide much-needed jobs.

If Pennsylvania is to grow its economy and provide a high quality of life for its people and businesses, and is to reduce its impact on global climate change, we must expand, not eliminate, alternative energy production. Therefore, we strongly oppose any legislation that would repeal or weaken the AEPS and support thoughtful measures already introduced in the General Assembly that will increase the use of renewable energy in Pennsylvania.