Gov. Tom Wolf signed executive order 2019-01 titled ‘Commonwealth Leadership in Addressing Climate Change and Promoting Energy Conservation and Sustainable Governance” on January 8, 2019. The order established near and long term targets for GHG emissions. The state is now committed to a 26% emission reduction of 2005 levels by 2025 and 80% by 2050. The order also mandates goals for renewable energy and electric vehicle adoption. By 2025 the passenger fleet will be 25% electric or plug in hybrid and 40% of electricity will be obtained by renewable energy sources. It also creates the Green Government Council to promote the implementation of the order.
The 2018 State Climate Action Plan was released in April, 2019. It is the fourth iteration of Pennsylvania’s climate plan and the first to include GHG goals. It differs from previous years in that it comprehensively addresses the changing climate in Pennsylvania by focusing on both the impacts of climate change (adapting to the impacts of climate change) and the prevention or slowing of human-caused climate change (reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change). The Plan suggests over 100 actions that can be taken to achieve the GHG goals. 15 of these actions were quantitatively analyzed including a cap and trade market mechanism, increasing renewable energy, incentivizing building efficiency and electric vehicles.
Following the recommendations of the Climate Action Plan, Tom Wolf signed executive order 2019-07 to address electric sector emissions via a cap and trade market mechanism and entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). By no later than July 31, 2020 the DEP must develop and present a plan to the Environmental Quality Board. The plan must be consistent with the RGGI Model Rule so trading can be performed between RGGI states. Once submitted the Environmental Quality Board will review it and pass it on to the General Assembly. This process can take over two years.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) implements Act 129, which guides consumers and electric utilities toward achieving reduced energy consumption and peak electric demand. The State is currently on the third iteration, or “phase”, of the energy efficiency plan for the program years 2016-2021 and the Public Utility Commission is in the process of developing Phase IV. In order to allow for the adequate planning for the potential Phase IV the Commission has put forth a Final Order adopting a 2021 TRC test and an Avoided Cost Calculator to determine the benefit/cost calculations for energy efficiency portfolios. Energy efficiency and demand response potential studies as well as public hearings will take place throughout 2020. If the PUC approves Phase IV it will begin on June 1, 2021. A full timeline can be found here.
Currently, energy efficiency utility investment is limited to 2% of 2006 utility revenues. This cap artificially restricts the level of investment the utilities can make to eliminate energy waste. An ACEEE report estimates that a removal of the cap could unlock 30,000 jobs and $2.1 billion more energy savings then if the cap remained. Bipartisan bills have been introduces in both the state senate and the house to remove the cap.
On May 1, 2018, the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code Review and Advisory Council announced a critical update to its state code by adopting the 2015 IECC. Energy codes are often adopted alongside a suite of other codes including fire, mechanical, and plumbing, and that is the case with Pennsylvania. Before this, the state remained stagnant at the 2009 IECC. With energy savings of up to 25 percent over the commercial 2009 IECC, the 2015 IECC update will help buyers and occupants of new homes and buildings save money, save energy, and reduce their carbon footprints.
Policy & Program Information
|Public Utility Commission|
|Department of Environmental Protection Energy Page|
|West Penn Power|
|Climate Change Action Plan 2018 Update|
|Act 129 Legislation|
|Act 129 Program Website|
|Act 129 Phase IV Timeline|
|House Bill HB 193|
|Senate Bill SB 232|
|Uniform Construction Code|
|State Documents and Key Info- Pennsylvania|
|State Efficiency Screening Practice|
|U.S. Department of Energy|
Pennsylvania at a Glance
|Direct Jobs in Energy Efficiency||68,820|
|Electric Efficiency Program Expenditures||$184.9 million|
|Gas Efficiency Program Expenditures||$8.8 million|
|Per Capita Expenditures||$13.24|
|Annual Electric Savings||1,063,069 MWh|
|Electric Savings as Percent of Retail Sales||0.74%|
|Annual Gas Savings||1.7 million therms|
|Gas Savings as Percent of Retail Sales||0.03%|