Renewable Energy On the Rise in Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania’s two energy giants—natural gas and nuclear power industries—have been pitted against each other in the debate over the state’s proposed $500 million nuclear rescue package. Renewable energy advocates believe they hold the swing vote and are requesting a seat at the table to determine if this bill will pass. Let’s take a deeper look at the specifics of the plan and what it means for the energy industry moving forward.

Nuclear Rescue Plan in PA

The proposed $500 million Pennsylvania nuclear rescue plan will cost each state household about an additional $1.77 per month in increased electric rates. This new bill will require utility providers and other retail sellers of electricity to purchase half their power from zero-emission nuclear power plants. In addition, this proposed bill requires urgent action to avert closure of Exelon’s Three Mile Island Unit 1 Reactor.

Green Power Bills in PA

Philadelphia area legislators are set to introduce green energy bills that will increase the share of solar and wind power in the state. The green energy bills will help reduce carbon emissions by requiring renewable energy to make up 30 percent of all power sold in the state by 2030, up from the current law that sets a target of 8 percent by 2021.

“The time is now, while you’re talking about the nuclear bill, to start talking about where do we want to be by 2030 and 2050 in terms of solar and wind in Pennsylvania, because otherwise, we’re going to be left behind,” said State Rep. Steve McCarter, (D., Montgomery), who is sponsoring a house version of the legislation.

Environmentalists are Torn

Currently, Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards require 18 percent of electricity be derived from renewable energy sources. Without this nuclear rescue package, some environmentalists fear that the closure of even one reactor will result in an immediate increase in gas-fired production, which would increase the state’s emission levels.

There are environmentalists who oppose this bill because it will not help increase renewable energy. “What we want is a climate bill that would put the state on track to decarbonize the power sector, not just a nuclear subsidy bill,” said Szybist, of the NRDC.

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