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Pennsylvania Senate to consider alternative, renewable energy bills  

A group of Pennsylvania lawmakers on Nov. 27 advanced several energy bills, including a measure to authorize an additional $20 million in tax credits for alternative energy research and development.

The Senate Special Session Committee on Energy Policies sent eight bills dealing with alternative and renewable energy and biofuels to the Senate for consideration. The committee in October advanced a bill invest $530 million over the next seven years in consumer energy programs, energy conservation and the development of alternative and renewable energy.

“We’re committed to making this a productive special session, and moving these bills forward will allow for broad review, discussion and debate in the full Senate,” committee chair state Sen. Mary Jo White said in a statement.

A representative for White was not immediately available for comment on Nov. 28 as to when the Senate might consider the proposals.

One of the proposals, special session Senate Bill 6, sponsored by state Sen. Ted Erickson, authorizes a solar energy tax credit covering 25% of the installation costs associated with solar energy. Two of the other measures would amend the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act to allow certain sources to be categorized as Tier 1 alternative energy sources.

Special Session Senate Bill 25, sponsored by state Sen. Mike Waugh amends the AEPS to designate by-products of the pulping and wood manufacturing process – including bark, wood chips, sawdust and lignin in spent pulping liquors – as Tier I alternative energy sources. Those sources are currently classified as Tier II sources. SS SB 31, sponsored by state Sen. Don White, amends the act to allow “low-impact hydropower” as a Tier 1 alternative energy source. The low-impact hydropower would have to have a nameplate capacity of 21 MW or less and a FERC license issued before Jan. 1, 1984, and is held by a municipality or an electric cooperative as of July 1, 2007.

Pennsylvania’s AEPS requires utilities to generate 8% of their electricity from Tier I sources and 10% from Tier II sources by mid-2021.

On the Waugh bill, Erickson said: “My suggestion is in the absence of knowing how much this will impact that 8% and not knowing what we are looking at from the rest of Commonwealth, and also from outside of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, that we should have some agreement to take a look at these issues before we move this bill.”

He asked that sometime in the future, the impact how much energy the process would produce statewide be explored and consideration be given to increase the 8% requirement for Tier I. Erickson also noted concern that adding sources to Tier I could potentially devalue the credits that are now produced.

Mary Jo White agreed that perhaps the time is right to ask the state Public Utility Commission to review what the impact on credits and whether the Tier 1 percentage is still a good number.

“I don’t know how much time we should let pass before we do an evaluation of Tier I and of the portfolio standards; but they’ve been in place for three years, so this may be an appropriate thing to do,” she said.

By Kelly Harrington

SNLi

28 November 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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