In Pa., Clean Power Plan will create jobs, cut carbon

Published July 31, 2015

Wind turbines are increasingly being built on Pennsylvania farms. Due to the small footprints of wind turbines, the vast majority of acreage can continue to be used for agricultural production. (Sebastian Celis via Creative Commons)

Wind turbines are increasingly being built on Pennsylvania farms. Due to the small footprints of wind turbines, the vast majority of acreage can continue to be used for agricultural production. (Sebastian Celis via Creative Commons)

By Alice Tong

Pennsylvanians know what smart clean energy policies are about.

They’re about savings and investments.

Pennsylvanians’ pocketbooks are already benefitting from good energy policies. The state’s energy efficiency law, Act 129, has already saved PECO and PPL customers a combined $750 million since 2008. This means that as a result of more effective energy efficient technologies, customers are reaping $2.40 in benefits for every $1 paid to the utility.

Moreover, the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which requires that 18 percent of electric power come from clean energy sources like wind and solar by 2021, has also helped to grow the renewable energy industry. The wind industry already has invested more than $2.7 billion  in the state.

More than 33,000 Pennsylvania homes now have solar, placing the state 14th in the nation for household solar installations. In 2013 alone, the solar industry invested more than $144 million in Pennsylvania.

Under the federal Clean Power Plan, we’ll see more investments in renewable energy – and more savings through energy efficiency.

Smart clean energy policies are about jobs, too.

Today, 57,000 Pennsylvanians have good paying careers at 4,200 clean energy companies in the Keystone State, thanks to smart policies like Act 129 and the state RPS.

Under the Clean Power Plan, Pennsylvania can cut its carbon pollution by about 30 percent in part by increasing renewable energy and energy efficiency. That means creating thousands of new jobs in the state.

According to a recent Synapse Energy Economics analysis, Pennsylvania could create at least 5,100 more energy efficiency jobs and save its businesses at least $241 million on energy bills in 2020 if the state chooses to implement a strong carbon pollution standard. These types of jobs pay $2,300 more per year than the state’s average, stimulating the economy while also providing Pennsylvania with opportunities for employment.

A strong plan would provide the clear market signal businesses, entrepreneurs, and investors are looking for to further invest in the state and position Pennsylvania as a regional leader in clean energy.

Smart policies like the Clean Power Plan are about something else, too: Public health costs. Reducing carbon pollution would combat the ways climate change is affecting our health, with worsening air quality, extreme heat, extreme precipitation and flooding, and greater exposure to dangerous diseases, which all add up to increased health costs and strains on the economy.

For me, that’s personal. My in-laws live in Philadelphia. I want my kids to someday visit their grandparents in a city with reduced exposure to allergens and smog.

The Clean Power Plan will allow for Pennsylvania to continue growing its clean energy economy, save its citizens money, and create a cleaner environment for us all.

Alice Tong is E2’s Eastern States Advocate. She can be reached at alice@e2.org.