Pennsylvania organization looks to extend energy savings law in state

January 17, 2012

The PennFuture Energy Center for Enterprise and the Environment filed a petition before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) asking the agency to start the process for extending the energy savings law requirements, according to a release from the organization.

The release noted that extension of the energy savings law, Act 129, would be beneficial to the state, as the legal deadline is not until November 30, 2013.

"The energy savings law, which set goals for electric utilities to promote energy conservation among consumers, is an unqualified success," said Courtney Lane, senior policy analyst at the Energy Center. "According to a study by Optimal Energy, Pennsylvanians have cut electricity usage by 2,073 gigawatt-hours (GWh) – 41 percent greater than required by the law – and are saving $278 million annually."

The release outlined how the state also gained 4,000 job years – these are measured as one full-time job for one year – along with a more reliable electric grid and a reduction in air pollution and heat-trapping gases that contribute to climate change.

Lane went on to say that this law was the first of its kind within the state, and though the initial deadline was set, a delay in the extension of the program may have negative consequences.

"If the PUC waits until the last moment though, this great program will be disrupted and will cost consumers more to restart," said Lane. "And families and businesses will no longer have these valuable programs available to save money and energy. The Keystone State will also lose jobs, since the market for energy efficiency workers will shrink while the program is idled."

Fierce Energy reported that if the state acts now, utilities will have more than a year to plan for the next phase, instead of asking them to meet the goals at an earlier point.

Pennsylvania has benefited from Act 129, as illustrated in the Optimal Energy report, and the creation of energy jobs is helping to make it a leading state in the sector.

The state has also benefited from the designation of an energy efficient building innovation HUB in Philadelphia by the Department of Energy. Dubbed the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy Efficient Buildings (GPIC), this initiative is helping cement the region's place as a leader in energy efficiency.

The GPIC is working to develop and design energy efficient buildings and technology that can be tested in Philadelphia, and in doing so, is bringing a significant number of jobs and investment into the region.