Lawmakers introduce landmark energy bills in Pa. House

Shapiro: PACER and PRESS plans would create clean and reliable energy in Pa.

HARRISBURG, May 8 – State Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester, and state Rep. Aerion Abney, D-Allegheny, today introduced legislation advancing the Shapiro administration’s Pennsylvania Reliable Energy Sustainability Standard (PRESS) and Pennsylvania Climate Emission Reduction (PACER) Program plans for Pennsylvania, respectively. The plans were first announced by Gov. Josh Shapiro in March.

A companion PRESS bill was filed in the Senate by state Sen. Steven Santarsiero, D-Bucks, while state Sen. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester, introduced the Senate version of the PACER legislation.

“Right now in our commonwealth, we must take action to catch up in the race to create clean and reliable energy – to be more competitive, ensure consumers pay less for their electricity bills, and create more jobs and opportunities for our businesses to grow and our workers to get ahead,” Shapiro said. “I have made clear that any energy policy supported by my administration must meet the three-part test of protecting and creating energy jobs, taking real action to address climate change pollution, and ensuring reliable, affordable power for consumers in the long term – and my energy plan is built to do all three. Together with the support of leaders like Representative Abney and Representative Otten in the General Assembly, we’re going to ensure Pennsylvania will continue to be a national energy leader for decades to come.”

Enacting the PRESS legislation, now introduced as H.B. 2277, would significantly increase the amount of renewable energy that utilities use, saving Pennsylvanians money on energy bills, creating thousands of clean energy jobs, and reducing the harmful emissions that result in air pollution and global warming. PRESS would require Pennsylvania to get 50% of its electricity from a diverse range of energy resources by 2035, including 35% from the cleanest sources, such as solar, wind, and small modular reactors.

“With the language now introduced, the next step is for the General Assembly to hold public hearings on this legislation and make the strong case for why, after nearly two decades of inaction, it’s time to move forward on energy policy that advances our climate goals and economic goals,” Otten said.

“If enacted, PRESS and PACER together would be the most substantive and ambitious clean energy policy in Pennsylvania history and the biggest step our commonwealth has ever taken to reduce air pollution and mitigate climate change. We are at a point where inaction on climate is not an option. Only 4% of Pennsylvania's energy comes from renewable sources, and we are ranked 45th in the country for the amount of clean energy that’s used to power our homes and businesses.”

The PACER program, introduced as H.B. 2275, would complement PRESS by mandating that large carbon-emitting entities pay their fair share. Of the total revenues collected, 70% would be returned to PA electricity consumers in the form of a rebate. The remaining 30%, acquired from out-of-state users, would go toward projects focused on decreasing air pollution and benefiting environmental justice communities.

“PACER and PRESS are essential cogs in the machine that is our commonwealth’s environmental prosperity and posterity,” Abney said. “We must fully invest in these programs not just for a greener PA but also for the economic stimulus they would help provide. Thank you to Rep. Otten and senators Comitta and Santarsiero for their collaboration on bringing this component of a budget for all Pennsylvanians closer to fruition.”

In the Senate, Comitta filed S.B. 1191 to reflect the PACER plan.

“Pennsylvania accounts for about 1% of global emissions. As a major energy-producing state, we have a responsibility to lead the way in addressing climate change. PACER and PRESS can work together to bring Pennsylvanians cleaner air, more job opportunities, and lower electricity bills,” said Comitta, minority chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

Santarsiero filed PRESS legislation in the Senate as S.B. 1190.

“I have long said that it’s a false premise to say we must choose between creating jobs or saving our planet,” Santarsiero said.  “I applaud Gov. Shapiro for leading the way and bringing together the interests of consumers, labor and the environment to find a solution that works for all of us. To that end, I am proud to introduce legislation to create the Pennsylvania Reliable Energy Sustainability Standard, the next generation of alternative energy portfolio standards for the commonwealth.”

Otten, who chairs the House Climate Caucus and serves on the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, added that by updating Pennsylvania’s outdated clean-energy targets under PRESS, the commonwealth can both advance climate goals and help Pennsylvania compete for renewable energy projects and clean-energy jobs.

“In 2004, Pennsylvania led the nation by establishing Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS) that successfully promoted cleaner, more sustainable forms of energy generation in our commonwealth,” Otten said. “But 20 years later, we have fallen behind our neighboring states in the race to diversify energy sources and create clean, reliable, and affordable energy. PRESS has the potential to secure Pennsylvania’s place as one of the world’s top energy producers while delivering net improvements in our emissions, grid reliability, and energy resilience.”

According to the Shapiro administration, if passed by the legislature, in their first five years, PACER and PRESS are projected to save ratepayers an estimated $252 million, create nearly 15,000 energy jobs, and generate $5.1 billion in investment in clean, reliable energy sources.