PennFuture slams Pennsylvania agency on alternative energy decision

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that it would not recommend the state’s Climate Change Advisory Committee (CCAC) debate or vote on a plan that considers increasing the state’s renewable energy law, the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS), further noting that it would not be including information in Pennsylvania’s next Climate Action Plan about how the existing AEPS law reduces electricity prices for consumers.

“While other states in the region and around the country recognize the multiple benefits of renewable energy and have increased the requirements in their state portfolios, DEP is telling us upfront that they won’t consider the idea of increasing renewable energy in Pennsylvania,” said Christina Simeone, director of the PennFuture Energy Center and Chair of the CCAC. “This administration chooses to ignore the benefits renewable energy offers, including greenhouse gas reductions, cost reductions for electricity customers, and economic development opportunities. The administration claims they have an all-of-the-above policy yet their actions prove contrary.” 

Increasing zero carbon renewable energy, such as wind and solar, are typically key elements of any strategy to address climate change. Not only do these technologies benefit the environment, they create jobs and drive economic growth. In 2012, Pennsylvania added about 550 MW of wind, a significant portion of that total developed by Pennsylvania companies using turbines manufactured right here in the Keystone State. 

The CCAC was established by law in 2008 and is charged with making recommendations to DEP on greenhouse gas reduction strategies and other actions to address climate change in Pennsylvania. Earlier this year, DEP staff introduced a plan to the CCAC that considered a modest increase in renewable energy from the existing 8 percent standard to a 10.5 percent standard. DEP later withdrew the plan for internal review and informed the CCAC on Tuesday they would not be re-introducing it. The Department also removed a detailed “price suppression” analysis describing how existing renewable energy requirements can reduce electricity prices for consumers. 

“An August 2013 study from the Ohio Public Utility Commission found that existing and planned renewable energy projects would save customers $28.5 million by suppressing wholesale electricity market prices. Similar studies covering Pennsylvaniahave confirmed this cost saving phenomenon, yet DEP doesn’t want to include the information,” said Simeone.

PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization founded in 1998 with staff in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg,Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre. PennFuture’s activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state, and federal courts; advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level; public education; and assisting citizens in public advocacy.

The Philadelphia Inquirer called PennFuture the “state’s leading environmental advocacy organization”; the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette named the organization “one of the 10 most influential groups on the issue of natural gas drilling”; and StateImpact Pennsylvania, an online collaboration of NPR stations across the state, called PennFuture “the commonwealth’s main environmental advocate.”