Legislative Action On Increasing Pennsylvania's Energy Goals Seems Unlikely

Mar 16, 2021

Solar panels that are part of the University Area Joint Authority's solar array in Centre County.
Credit Anne Danahy / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s targets for renewable energy are set to max out this year unless the General Assembly takes action, and Republican leaders seem ready to leave increasing goals for green energy up to the private sector.

The state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards require utilities to buy certain amounts of power from renewable sources. For example, utilities now have to get 8% of their power from “Tier 1” energy sources like wind and solar.

House Democratic leader Joanna McClinton said her party would like to gradually raise those standards and tap into the growing green energy job market.

“We would like to be able to  see the preservation of good-paying jobs, while also being able to get our workforce up to speed to be able to pursue more clean energy," she said.

Republicans control both chambers in the General Assembly, including oversight of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee by Republican Representative Daryl Metcalfe. His office did not respond to a request for comment.

“It’s been a challenge to see the bills that impact the investment that we need in clean energy get out of committee and into, at least in the House, to the General Assembly," McClinton said.

Senate President Pro Tem Jake Corman said the government can encourage the move to green energy.  

“But, ultimately, the consumers and the private sector decide by the private sector producing products that the consumers want through a recyclable process," he said. "I think we're seeing a lot of that right now on its own."

Renewable energy advocates say the state’s standards need to go up to help cut carbon emissions and avoid the worst effects of climate change. 

The Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act of 2004 maxes out this year. Along with utilities getting 8% of power from “Tier 1” sources like wind and solar, another 10% of power comes from “Tier 2” sources like coal waste.