The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, along with other industry trade groups in the state, is urging the Legislature to reject a bill that gives additional support to the solar energy market and could cost businesses and consumers as much as $1 billion in energy price hikes.
House Bill 1580 would increase the percentage of electricity generated by solar that utilities have to buy and sell to consumers over the next three years as part of Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act. The 2004 law requires that 0.5 percent of all electricity purchases and sales come from solar sources by 2020.
HB 1580, introduced by Republican Rep. Chris Ross of Chester County, would increase the purchase percentages as follows:
• 2012-2013 purchases increase from 0.051 percent to 0.15 percent.
• 2013-2014 purchases increase from 0.084 percent to 0.17 percent.
• 2014-2015 purchases increase from 0.144 percent to 0.2041 percent
The chamber and its coalition said the increases are solely meant to prop up the market for solar energy credits and they continue to give solar an unfair advantage.
“Solar operates with preferential treatment in the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act,” said Shawn Good, the chamber’s director of government affairs.
The bill also would add about $100 million to energy costs due to price hikes over three years, for as much as $1 billion more over the next 10 years, he said. Those costs illustrate that solar isn’t able to survive on its own, he said.
Good did not comment on whether other subsidies for conventional fuels such as oil or natural gas should be removed, although he said those sources have proven to be able to stand on their own in the market.
The chamber opposed the 2004 alternative energy portfolio law because it believed market competition, not government mandates, should dictate the mix of energy sources. Good said the chamber is supportive of alternative fuels if traded on an open market.
The chamber was joined in its position by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Electric Power Generation Association, Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council, Pennsylvania Coal Association, Pennsylvania Retailers Association, Pennsylvania Business Council, Associated Petroleum Industries, Energy Association of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association, and the Marcellus Shale Coalition.