Pennsylvania’s AEPS goals need to be stretched to attract more investors

Pennsylvania’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) has not been up to the expected standard. Energy experts and government critics have pointed out that the state needs to expand its targets to keep up with neighboring states in the clean energy sector. At the beginning of February, Greg Vitali, a Pennsylvania state representative, published an article titled ‘a realistic climate agenda for Pennsylvania’. He highlighted what ought to be done to boost the state’s green energy industry.

Pennsylvania is the fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the United States, according to a recent study. “Pennsylvania emitted about 215 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2017, making it the fifth-largest emitting state in the nation,” said Vitali in the article.

According to Vitali, political disagreements will drag the state’s approach to climate change down. “Pennsylvania should be doing things like increasing its Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS), expanding the energy conservation provisions of Act 2019, and joining the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program. But with the State House and Senate firmly in Republican control, it’s unlikely that any of these things will happen this year,” added Vitali.

His sentiments are valid and realistic. However, they are also below average compared to Pennsylvania’s neighbors, who have robust and well-planned green energy projects.

“Pennsylvania’s current AEPS goals require a paltry 8% of electricity come from renewable sources, with 0.5% from in-state solar by May 2021. These numbers are meager compared to Pennsylvania’s neighboring states,” said Andrea Wittchen, an energy expert. Increasing these targets will attract more investors in the region. According to Wittchen, increasing the renewable energy goals to 18% with solar accounting for 5.5 % would increase the state’s investment values to billions of dollars and provide job opportunities to residents.

On the contrary, if something is not done to ramp up these values, investors will avoid investing in Pennsylvania, leaving the state’s economy stagnant. Investors will camp in the neighboring states making Pennsylvania lag behind in growth, market viability, and low clean energy industry.

Pennsylvania’s AEPS was enacted in 2004 to introduce alternative energy solutions to the state’s electricity demands. Electricity distribution companies and suppliers were mandated to ensure that by 2021, eighteen percent of the state’s electricity is sourced from renewables. To address climate change and contribute to the nation’s zero-carbon targets, Pennsylvania needs to adopt new policies on the expansion of battery-powered vehicles, endorse the use and production of large-scale methane and authorize the adoption of community-based solar power projects.

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