Shapiro proposes leaving RGGI….and entering into PA ONLY cap-and-trade energy plan

13 March 2024- Governor Josh Shapiro kicked off what he calls “a new era of energy leadership in Pennsylvania”, unveiling his plan to protect and create nearly 15,000 energy jobs, lower utility bills for Pennsylvania households, and take real action to address carbon pollution. If passed by the legislature, the Governor’s initiatives would save Pennsylvania ratepayers $252 million in the first five years, while generating $5.1 billion in investment in clean, reliable energy sources.

Pennsylvania is still falling behind other states, the Governor says, in the race to diversify its energy sources and create clean, reliable, and affordable energy. The Governor’s energy plan will help to cement Pennsylvania’s place as one of the world’s top energy producers and insulate consumers from rising utility costs as a result of global instability and foreign wars. Governor Shapiro made this announcement today in Scranton – the former site of Pennsylvania’s largest coal fields – and alongside the pipefitters and union workers who stand ready to help build the future of our nation’s energy infrastructure.

The Governor’s plan creates an emissions reduction program that leverages Pennsylvania’s advantages as a major energy producer to reduce climate emissions while also directly lowering prices for Pennsylvanians through an electric bill rebate; solidifies an all-of-the-above vision for Pennsylvania’s energy future through bold new reliability targets that will produce a more diverse, resilient electricity grid by 2035, attract more federal dollars, and support Pennsylvania’s low-carbon natural gas and nuclear facilities for the first time; and builds on the Governor’s economic development strategy to make transformational investments in clean energy production.

“Pennsylvania is falling behind in the race to create clean and reliable energy – and we must take action to be more competitive, ensure our consumers pay less for their electricity bills, and create more jobs and opportunities for our businesses to grow and our workers to get ahead,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “From the very beginning, I have made clear that any energy policy supported by my Administration must meet the three-part test of protecting and creating energy jobs, taking real action to address climate change pollution, and ensuring reliable, affordable power for consumers in the long term. My energy plan is built to do all three, making sure the first dollar goes to Pennsylvania ratepayers and ensuring Pennsylvania will continue to be a leader on energy for decades to come.”

Governor Shapiro is proposing two critical initiatives that together, he says, will lower prices for consumers, create and protect Pennsylvania jobs, and lower climate emissions.

Following the recommendations of the Governor’s RGGI Working Group, which brought together labor leaders, environmental advocates, and industry to evaluate the merits of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Governor is proposing the Pennsylvania Climate Emissions Reduction Act (PACER) to establish a Pennsylvania-specific cap-and-invest program that allows Pennsylvania to determine its own cap on carbon and invest directly in lowering consumers’ electricity bills. If passed, PACER would take Pennsylvania out of RGGI and give the Commonwealth control over its own energy future.

Under the proposed PACER bill, 70% of the revenue will be directed back to Pennsylvania residents as a rebate on their electric bill – more than any other cap-and-invest program in the nation – resulting in long-term, price relief on energy costs.

In addition to reducing emissions and saving Pennsylvanians money on their bills, PACER will support projects that reduce air pollution in Pennsylvania; further lower costs on energy bills for low-income Pennsylvanians; and invest in new job-creating clean energy projects – such as carbon capture and storage, geothermal deployment, and clean hydrogen – in energy communities that have hosted coal, oil, or gas infrastructure.

PACER allows Pennsylvania to chart its own energy future, independent from the influence both from foreign oil and other states’ energy policies. PACER leverages Pennsylvania’s strengths to lower costs, create jobs, and protect our environment.

Governor Shapiro’s plan calls for a second legislative initiative, as well, to build out a more diverse, reliable, and affordable energy sector. Twenty years ago, Pennsylvania led the nation by establishing the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS), which successfully promoted new and innovative forms of energy in the Commonwealth. Over the last two decades, Pennsylvania’s energy standards have become outdated, and we are losing out to other states with more modern standards that attract new energy investment. Pennsylvania is 45th in the nation in terms of investing in clean energy sources like wind, solar, and hydropower.

That’s why Governor Shapiro’s plan introduces the Pennsylvania Reliable Energy Sustainability Standard (PRESS), which will attract federal investments in the Commonwealth and keep utility costs low in the long-term by building out the reliable, affordable fleet of power sources we will need for the decades to come.

PRESS continues all of the successful elements of AEPS but is also more inclusive to ensure reliability – adding nuclear power, next generation technologies like fusion, and clean forms of natural gas for the first time. This revitalized energy standard will attract hundreds of millions of dollars in new economic investments in our state and create 14,500 jobs, all while improving the reliability of our electricity grid and positioning Pennsylvania as a leader in the energy arena for the next twenty years.

 
PRESS is designed to incentivize a more reliable power generation fleet to combat the threats of extreme weather, cyberattacks, and other challenges that could impact individual sources of electricity. PRESS requires Pennsylvania to get 50% of its electricity from a diverse range of energy resources by 2035, including 35% from the clean energy sources of today and the future like solar, wind, small modular reactors, and fusion, 10% from sustainable sources like large hydropower and battery storage, and 5% from ultra-low emission forms of natural gas and other traditional fuels. By raising these targets for a diverse range of energy sources, PRESS will jumpstart a new era of reliable and affordable energy development in Pennsylvania. 

PACER and PRESS are designed to work together to deliver on Governor Shapiro’s goals of protecting and creating energy jobs, lowering energy costs for Pennsylvanians, and ensuring Pennsylvania’s energy independence for the long term. Together they will spur a new generation of energy development and save consumers money each month on their electricity bills, all while reducing emissions and building the most reliable fleet of energy resources in the nation.

Governor Shapiro’s plan also recognizes the critical importance of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) in meeting our emissions reductions goals, and he is urging the General Assembly to pass enabling legislation to create a legal and regulatory framework for CCUS in Pennsylvania. This will help our state reduce emissions from the largest industrial sources and create good-paying, clean energy jobs in the process.

Finally, Governor Shapiro’s plan includes commonsense protections for consumers against unfair practices like excessive reconnection fees and greater access to medical waivers, along with other measures that protect Pennsylvanians and help them pay their utility bills