Pennsylvania Passes Bill to Strengthen Alternative Energy Use, Attract Solar Industry
On August 23, Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell signed House Bill (HB) 1203, which increases the state's commitment to clean and renewable energy. This commitment, in turn, is expected to attract additional economic development from the solar industry.
The bill creates Act 35 of 2007, which amends the commonwealth's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act to include the broader use of solar technology in retail electricity sales. HB 1203 will also encourage electricity suppliers to incorporate more clean energy into their portfolios. Additionally, the bill:
- Ensures that at least 850 megawatts of clean, solar power is generated in the commonwealth by 2020
- Requires the utilities to plan ahead in making electricity purchases to ensure they are able to meet the clean and alternative energy requirements of the act
- Adds solar thermal to the list of renewable resources that qualify for the Tier I energy source designation, which generally consist of clean energy sources like wind, solar, and biomass
- Ensures that alternative energy credits remain the property of the individual or alternative energy system from which they were generated, unless a legal agreement exists between parties that states otherwise
- Clarifies that all renewable energy produced within the commonwealth and within the territory of the grid operator serving the utility may satisfy the utility's alternative energy purchasing requirement, while projects outside these areas cannot satisfy the legal obligation of the utility.
Rendell signed the bill in a ceremony while visiting a middle school in Erie County, in the far northwest corner of the state. The school is adding a 30-kilowatt photovoltaic system as part of its renovation. During a news conference at the school, Rendell said, "We passed the historic Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act in 2004 to put Pennsylvania on the path to the greater use of clean, renewable and alternative energy sources. Once we made that commitment, we saw growth in those industries — solar, wind, biomass and methane — totaling $1 billion in new private investment and the creation of approximately 2,500 jobs."
Last year two companies — Conergy a manufacturer of solar electric, solar thermal, and solar pump equipment and Gamesa, a wind turbine manufacturer — chose Pennsylvania for their North American headquarters. Gamesa has also established manufacturing facilities in Cambria and Bucks Counties, in southern and eastern Pennsylvania, respectively. The commitments by the two companies are expected to create more than 1,000 new jobs and more than $200 million in new investments in Pennsylvania.
On August 28, Rendell announced that SunTechnics, a subsidiary of Conergy, will construct a solar-powered generation plant on a 16.5-acre site in Falls Township, Bucks County. The plant will produce 3,700 megawatt hours annually and will be the largest photovoltaic generating project east of the Mississippi.
For more information about the bill, see the governor's August 23 press release.
To read more about renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Pennsylvania, see:
- Pennsylvania news published on the EERE Web site.
- Brief project descriptions from the Pennsylvania Energy Office published in the EERE State Energy Program newsletter, Conservation Update.
- Pennsylvania publications listed in the EERE State Publications Database.