The governor of Pennsylvania has made a campaign pledge of 30% renewable energy by 2030. While 30% is not overly ambitious, three business groups crunched the numbers and found that, if enacted, more than $13.1 billion could be invested in Pennsylvania over the next seven years and 129,000 jobs could be created.
A coalition of approximately 100 clean energy groups urged Pennsylvania Governor Shapiro not to wait to expand the renewable energy requirements within the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS). The report by Advanced Energy United, MAREC Action, and American Clean Power Association, examined potential economic and jobs benefits of the proposed increase in renewables.
“Clean energy can be a massive money-maker and job-creator for Pennsylvania, but only if elected officials take action,” said Nick Bibby, Pennsylvania State lead for Advanced Energy United. “This report’s findings hammer home just how much Pennsylvania’s economy has to gain from clean energy—and what we’re missing out on as our policies lag further and further behind neighboring states.”
The AEPS was enacted into law in 2004 but its renewable energy requirements plateaued in 2021, after requiring that just 8% of the state’s electricity come from renewable energy sources that year. Nearby states have much more aggressive goals: New Jersey 50% by 2030, New York 70% by 2030, and Maryland 50% by 2030.
“Our new analysis shows that a modest increase of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard to 30% renewable energy by 2030 will return roughly $2 dollars in benefits to Pennsylvanians for every dollar invested,” said Evan Vaughan, executive director of MAREC Action. “AEPS expansion will maximize deployment of new energy sources while maintaining a strong foundation of legacy energy industries—ensuring the Commonwealth can meet the challenge of rising electricity demand and that Pennsylvanians benefit from a balanced, resilient and clean energy mix for years to come.”
The report outlines economic as well as environmental benefits to the “30 by 30” plan, which includes jobs and investment into developing energy projects. According to the report authors, the modeling considers the level of expenditures related to each type of resource and the origin of the costs. For example, installation labor for a solar array is economically sourced in Pennsylvania while the panels themselves are sourced from outside of Pennsylvania and do not contribute to in-state benefits.
The report also finds an increase to the AEPS would reduce emissions, which it values at $6.5 billion, due to avoiding costs associated with the negative health and economic impact of toxic air pollution as well as greenhouse gas emissions.
Cost to ratepayers is estimated at “at most, $3.43 more per month for the average residential customer, compared to business as usual, with cost impact declining into the future”.
Even after accounting for this ratepayer increase, the report finds that the state would still realize net economic benefits of $8.3 billion from 2024 to 2035. When factoring in both economic and environmental benefits, the net total benefits are projected to be $11.2 billion.
Other benefits noted include insulating ratepayers from fossil fuel price spikes and a more predictable cost of electricity. Furthermore, the report authors urge the state to take measures to protect low- and moderate-income households from ratepayer impacts,
“Pennsylvania’s long and storied leadership on energy development forms the bedrock for the region’s energy security, grid reliability, and economic resiliency. Governor Shapiro’s pledge to achieve 30% renewable energy sources by 2030 advances the Commonwealth’s historic energy leadership, making massive investments in the region’s future that will drive job creation, health benefits, and clean energy development for Pennsylvanians for decades to come,” said Moira Cyphers, director of eastern state affairs for American Clean Power. “Today’s report shows us that clean, affordable and reliable energy is the correct path for the future of the Keystone State.”
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