The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and environmental advocacy organization PennFuture are at odds over the state's renewable energy standard.
Pennsylvania's current Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) requires 8% of electricity generation to come from renewable sources by 2021, with a 4% mandate for this year. According to PennFuture, the DEP has told the Climate Change Advisory Committee (CCAC), a group charged with making recommendations to the department regarding climate change issues, not to consider a plan to increase the state's renewable energy law.
In addition, PennFuture says the DEP will exclude information on how the current AEPS mandate lowers electricity rates from Pennsylvania's next Climate Action Plan.
However, Patrick Henderson, energy executive for Gov. Tom Corbett, says that the DEP's action plan is still being developed, and therefore, it is too soon to comment.
PennFuture also contends that the DEP revealed a proposal to the CCAC earlier this year to increase the current AEPS from 8% to 10.5%. Yet, after the DEP reviewed the proposal, it informed the CCAC that it would not be used, the organization says.
Furthermore, the DEP withdrew an analysis that illustrates how current renewable energy mandates benefit consumers by reducing electricity prices, PennFuture asserts.
Henderson argues that Pennsylvania currently has a significant renewable energy standard.
‘It is critical to state that Pennsylvania already has an AEPS statute – which Governor Corbett is committed to – that, by law, annually increases required uses of alternative energy through 2021,’ he says. ‘We also must examine the positive impact market-based approaches to energy generation is having on emission reductions across the board. Each of these factors will inform the department's approach to the final action plan. Gov. Corbett is also committed to promoting and expanding Pennsylvania's competitive electricity markets – which is one of the most effective approaches to growing and sustaining a diverse energy portfolio."
Nevertheless, PennFuture is not buying what Henderson is selling.
Christina Simeone, director of the PennFuture Energy Center and chair of the CCAC, says in a statement, ‘While other states in the region and around the country recognize the multiple benefits of renewable energy and have increased the requirements in their state portfolios, DEP is telling us up front that they won't consider the idea of increasing renewable energy in Pennsylvania.
‘This administration chooses to ignore the benefits renewable energy offers, including greenhouse gas reductions, cost reductions for electricity customers and economic development opportunities. The administration claims they have an all-of-the-above policy, yet their actions prove contrary."
In responding to Simeone's statement, Henderson does not mince words.
‘Ms. Simeone's statement is hypocritical," he says. "The reality is, in nearly three years, neither Ms. Simeone nor PennFuture has taken up the administration's offer to engage in a reasonable dialog on energy issues – preferring instead to play the role of keyboard warriors by issuing baseless press releases instead of face-to-face discussion."