ORIGINAL REPORTING: Pennsylvania lawmakers rethink renewables
Two roads diverging: Pennsylvania lawmakers rethink their renewables mandate; Policymakers are making decisions on how to change the state's alternative energy portfolio standards by 2021, causing a tension between utilities and distributed solar activists.
Herman K. Trabish, Aug. 30, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Pennsylvania continues to debate which solar future to choose.
Pennsylvania leaders have big choices to make about the state's energy and solar future that will impact its power sector for the next decade. Policymakers must choose how to change the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS), which now requires 18% alternative energy by 2021. And, if they replace the AEPS' 0.5% carve out, they must choose whether to include 90% utility-scale solar or 35% distributed solar. At the end of 2017, Pennsylvania was at 0.2% solar. A draft plan for 10% solar by 2030 was released in July. Its choice of a largely utility-scale solar carve out, or one that includes over one-third distributed solar, has already started a classic solar debate between utilities and distributed solar advocates.
"Pennsylvania is working on the energy sector's next generation and solar should be key," said Patrick McDonnell, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which hosted the stakeholder-led process that produced the plan. "With its low installed price continuing to drop, solar must be a bigger part of our energy mix to keep us competitive with surrounding states." The new solar plan shows Pennsylvania "wants the jobs and environmental and energy benefits that come with solar," he added. "The state's utilities need to understand we are moving from large centralized plants to a more distributed energy grid and that means changes, but those changes can help utilities deliver better power quality and resilience for their customers." Pennsylvania installed 372.63 MW of solar at the end of 2017, to meet 0.2% of its electricity needs, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association(SEIA). This puts it well behind its border-states, Maryland and New Jersey… click here for more