PA House Republicans rebut Shapiro’s energy overhaul plan with bills of their own

27 March 2024- A group of state House Republicans is introducing a package of bills that will address energy affordability across the Commonwealth. These bills seek to combat Gov. Josh Shapiro’s assault on Pennsylvanians’ wallets when it comes to paying for their energy.

The nine bills are being sponsored by Reps. Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne), Jonathan Fritz (R-Susquehanna/Wayne), Mike Cabell (R-Luzerne), Joe Hogan (R-Bucks), Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford), Eric Nelson (R-Westmoreland), Jim Struzzi (R-Indiana) and Joe Hamm (R-Lycoming/Sullivan).

“Households across the Commonwealth experience the impacts of high energy costs, as some are forced to reduce spending on food, medicine or other necessities in order to heat their homes,” the representatives said. “This is unacceptable, especially when rising prices are attributable to government regulations and policies. Our bill package seeks to correct these wrongs and put Pennsylvanians, not the energy companies or bureaucratic red tape, in control.”

Kaufer’s bill seeks to repurpose money from Act 129 of 2008, which expanded the Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) oversight responsibilities, to redirect unused dollars for energy efficiency and conservation programs.

Fritz’s legislation proposes the creation of an Independent Energy Advocate within the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which would weigh in on any DEP action impacting Pennsylvania’s energy portfolio.

Cabell’s initiative is modeled after a 529 Plan or a Health Savings Account to permit energy bills to be paid with pre-tax dollars.

Hogan’s proposal would extend the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program to account for utility costs in determining the amount of relief provided to claimants within the current income eligibility and rebate amount parameters.

Owlett’s bill is proposing to re-name the Department of Environmental Protection to the Department of Energy and Environmental Services to further reflect the needs and level of service to communities.

Nelson’s proposed legislation seeks to allow former, now-shuttered energy production facilities to be eligible to be designated as Keystone Opportunity Zones, which will incentivize the redevelopment of these locations.

Struzzi has two bills in this legislative package. The first would create a new independent agency which would oversee approving any regulation or action of a state agency that would impact the Commonwealth’s energy portfolio.

Struzzi’s other bill would require the government to show how regulations impact affordability for communities at risk for energy poverty.

Hamm’s legislation seeks to direct the entrance of Pennsylvania into a power-exporting state consortium within the PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission organization (RTO) that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in parts of Pennsylvania and 12 other states, as well as the District of Columbia.

For more information on this package of bills, go here.