Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Dems Strategize for Clean Energy Jobs

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Dems Strategize for Clean Energy Jobs

Article excerpt

Clean energy and labor advocates told state Democratic lawmakers on Monday that policies encouraging the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency technology could support significant job growth in Pennsylvania.

As layoffs continue to hurt the fossil fuel industry, the Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee convened a two-hour public hearing to take notes on how to promote employment in clean energy professions. One newly released report suggested that the state's solar and building efficiency industries ? with the right state support ? can bring as many as 11,600 new jobs a year through 2030.

The committee took testimony from seven panelists who all expressed a certain degree of frustration with Pennsylvania's sluggish embrace of green technologies. John Quigley, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, told the committee, "It is clear that other states have leapfrogged us" in clean energy infrastructure and "we've got to catch up."

For one, the state's alternative energy standards ? a law passed in 2004 that requires Pennsylvania utilities to sell increasing amounts of electricity from clean sources ? is woefully behind the times, Mr. Quigley and other panelists said. The law also allows utilities to comply by investing in renewable projects in surrounding states, depressing incentives for Pennsylvania developers.

In fact, there's now enough solar energy capacity in Pennsylvania to meet the law's requirements for 2021.

Keeping the eligible projects would provide an immediate boost, Mr. Quigley said. But political clashes have prevented any progress on updating the alternative energy law in recent years.

In his first budget request last spring, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed a $225 million energy package that would have promoted energy efficiency and restored a statewide solar incentive program. It was blocked by Republicans opposed to a natural gas severance tax, which would have funded the package. …

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