PUC assures extension of law for energy savings

February 16, 2012

Pennsylvania's Public Utility Commission (PUC) has convinced environmental advocates that the state's energy savings programs will not be abandoned in the coming year, as the energy savings law known as Act 129 is set to expire in May 2013, according to Essential Public Radio.

The news source reported that PennFuture has withdrawn its petition to the commission asking to begin the process of extending the law, due to an assurance from PUC leadership that the programs will continue.

Commission Chairman Robert Powelson said that the PUC is supportive of the programs outlined in Act 129, and is eager to receive feedback regarding the success of the initiatives.

"Well I think the message was that we want all interested parties to have a seat at the table as a part of our stakeholder process, and I think PennFuture, to their credit, was very aggressive in wanting, obviously, an opportunity to meet with myself and my colleagues to talk about these issues," Powelson said in a statement.

PennFuture showed concern about the extension of the program due to the fact that if the PUC does not take action before the expiration date for the law, there will be a "blackout period." This would entail a suspension of energy efficiency programs by electric companies.

According to the news source, this would also result in an indefinite period of job losses, consumer confusion and a reduced return on investments in the sector.

PennFuture has noted that Act 129 has significantly cut electricity usage and air pollution, and is saving the state roughly $278 million annually. Essential Public Radio reported that the PUC has already started an extensive internal review and will set new savings goals for the program.

Pennsylvania has been one of the leading states in terms of energy efficiency, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is looking to motivate other regions of the country to reduce consumption levels.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu outlined the budget request from President Barack Obama for the DOE, noting that it includes critical investments in innovation, in job-creating clean energy technologies and consumption reduction.

The DOE has designated several innovation HUBs to help create jobs and reduce energy consumption, and one of these is located at the historic Philadelphia Navy Yard in Pennsylvania.

The Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy Efficient Buildings (GPIC) is an effort that looks to reduce the total consumption of America's structures by using innovative research techniques to create energy efficient buildings and technology that can be disseminated around the U.S.