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Sen. Leach introduces bill to expand alternative energy mandates

Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) Tuesday unveiled new legislation that would amend Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards to require electric energy distribution companies sell a larger percentage of electricity made up of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar photovoltaic.“I’d like to thank my colleagues and fellow environmental stewards that joined me today in support of my Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards legislation,” Sen. Leach said. “By amending these standards, we will not only reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we’ll also make Pennsylvania competitive with neighboring states, create thousands of jobs, stimulate the economy with investment capital, protect our environment and preserve public health. Those are all investments that we need to make in our Commonwealth, and will make by passing this legislation.”Senate Bill 1171 (not yet online), introduced last week, would require that electric energy distribution companies sell a larger percentage of electricity made up of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar photovoltaic. The standards have not been amended since 2007, and Leach said it is time that we update them and invest in Pennsylvania’s economy and environment.Sen. Leach was joined at the press conference by environmental advocates who heralded his legislation. Tom Schuster, Sierra Club Pennsylvania Campaign Representative, said, “We’re ready for Pennsylvania to once again lead the nation in clean, renewable energy development. Building more wind and solar power in our state will create jobs, grow our economy and help clean up the air our kids breathe. Our families deserve healthy air and a strong economy, and investing in clean energy for our homes and businesses can get us there.”Leach added that Senate Bill 1171 would nearly double the amount of renewable energy generated in the state, including tripling the amount of solar power. A 2010 report by the Political Economy Research Institute and the Center for American Progress estimated that efforts focusing on production of renewable energy could create up to 2 million jobs nationwide.The report stated, “Wind and solar photovoltaic industries provide at least 40 percent more jobs per dollar than coal. And, research from economist Dan Kammen shows that renewable energy has many more jobs per megawatt-hour than traditional energy sources. Second, by developing clean energy technologies, states will encourage innovation and new economic opportunities, a virtue unto itself.”Additionally, the study noted that clean energy investments create 16.7 jobs for every $1 million in spending. In contrast, the report said, fossil fuel spending generates only 5.3 jobs for every $1 million spent. Clean energy investments create nearly 3 times more jobs for people with college degrees and nearly 4 times more jobs for people with high school degrees or only some high school education. Other speakers at the press conference included Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware), sponsor of companion bill House Bill 100; Tom Schuster from Sierra Club; Khari Mosely from Blue-Green Alliance; Bruce Burcat from Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition; and Christina Simeone from PennFuture.