Pennsylvania Governor Approves Renewable Energy and Alt-Fuel Bills

December 8, 2004

Photo of two men working on a large surface covered with solar panels, which are reflecting a cloudy sky above.

This 16-kilowatt solar power system in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, is a sign of things to come for the state, as a new law will mandate 408 megawatts of solar power by 2019.
Credit: Lyle Rawlings of First, Inc.

Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell signed a bill into law on November 30th that will require the state's electric utilities to draw on renewable energy and other alternative energy sources for a percentage of their electricity supply. By late in 2019, 8 percent of their electrical supply must be derived from "Tier One" sources, defined as solar power from photovoltaic systems, wind power, low-impact hydropower, geothermal energy, fuel cells, biomass energy (from dedicated crops or waste streams), biologically derived methane gas, and methane recovered from venting coal mines. In addition, 10 percent of their power must come from "Tier Two" sources, defined as demand-side management, distributed generation systems, large-scale hydropower, municipal solid waste, wood manufacturing by-products, waste coal, and integrated combined-cycle coal gasification technology (also known as "clean coal"). The bill specifically requires solar photovoltaic power to provide 0.5 percent of the state's power by late in 2019, a requirement that the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) says will yield 408 megawatts of solar power. See the SEIA press release.

For most utilities in the state, the bill's requirements begin to phase in two years from now. The bill, called the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act and designated as Senate Bill 1030, also requires the state's Public Utilities Commission to establish a credit-trading system to help utilities meet the requirements and sets fees for non-compliance. The bill was lauded by Citizen's for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture), an advocacy group for the state's environment and economy. See the PennFuture press release (PDF 105 KB), the governor's press releases from November 30th, December 7th, and December 16th, and the full text of Senate Bill 1030. Download Acrobat Reader.

Governor Rendell also signed Senate Bill 255, the Alternative Fuels Incentive Act, which establishes a fund to help people and organizations buy alternative-fuel vehicles and convert existing vehicles to allow them to use alternative fuels. A one-time transfer of funds this fiscal year will support research and installation of alternative energy systems that produce power. The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) hailed the bill. See the governor's press release, the full text of Senate Bill 255, and the NBB press release (PDF 27 KB).