Monday, November 22, 2004

Pennsylvania Legislature Approves Renewable Portfolio Standard; Awaits Governor's Signature

The Pennsylvania Legislature enacted the "Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act"(AEPSA) on Saturday, with the House voting 161-35 to approve the measure. The House vote followed a 31-15 vote in the Senate last Thursday.

Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future offered this description of the RPS in its press release on the topic (via Yahoo News):
The Alternative Energy Bill requires 18 percent of the electricity sold in Pennsylvania to come from renewable and advanced energy sources within 15 years. The bill sets up two categories of energy sources required to be used by all power companies selling electricity in Pennsylvania -- Tier 1 energy sources including wind, solar and biomass and Tier 2 energy sources including energy saved from new energy efficiency measures and coal waste. Energy companies would have to obtain 8 percent of their power from Tier 1 resources and 10 percent of their power from Tier 2 resources.
Not everyone in Pa. is excited about the new legislation's potential to boost renewable energy generation, and some consider it a sham. Citizen's Power, a public research and advocacy organization, suggests that proponent's claims of increased renewable energy generation under the AEPSA are questionable because: (1) the requirements for renewable energy have been made optional by allowing the state Public Utility Commission to lower the standard for renewables in our energy mix if companies fail to develop renewables as required, and (2), large amounts of cheap, existing power (like hydroelectric dams) will fill up the requirements, leaving little room for new wind power.

Citizen's Power also points out that that the Pennsylvania RPS is dubiously distinct from other measures across the U.S. because the AEPSA legislation favors the use of dirty, non-renewable sources, including:
  • new coal plants
  • existing trash incinerators
  • burning waste coal and natural gas from coal mines
  • burning gas from digestion of factory farm waste
  • burning unfiltered, toxic landfill gases
  • burning crops, animal wastes, trees and paper mill waste
Governor Rendell, however, has expressed his support for the bill and it is widely expected that he will sign the bill into law sometime this week.

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