The PA Chamber continues to lead in supporting smart energy policy and investing in energy infrastructure – a key element of the overall infrastructure focus in our member-driven “Bringing PA Back” economic recovery initiative. This past week, the PA Chamber applauded the passage of legislation preserving local access to energy choice, stood with leaders from the PA Senate and the building trades in support of expanded energy infrastructure, and secured publication of an op-ed noting the continued improvement in air quality as a result of private sector investment and competitive energy markets.
State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Lycoming, hosted a press conference last week to tout S.B. 275, known as “Energy Choice” legislation, that limits municipal governments from banning sources of energy and utility service. The bill is not intended to promote any specific energy source.
Yaw was flanked at the press conference by other state lawmakers, PA Chamber Director of Government Affairs Director Kevin Sunday, representatives from statewide energy associations and members of Pittsburgh Works Together, a nonpartisan alliance of labor unions, business and civic leaders. The group was unified in giving Pennsylvania’s businesses access to multiple energy options in order to stay competitive in an increasingly challenging global market. In a press release, PA Chamber President and CEO Gene Barr was quoted as saying, “As Pennsylvania’s history has shown, energy choice in the marketplace has yielded tremendous reductions in both costs and emissions, and we applaud the introduction of this legislation that will ensure those trends continue. We are hopeful this commonsense legislation passes with bipartisan support.”
Senate Bill 275 was approved last week by the Senate Local Government Committee. Prior to its consideration, the PA Chamber sent a memo to committee lawmakers urging support for the bill as a continuation and extension of long-standing public policy in this state that energy policy is the prerogative of state government.
“As more businesses execute sustainability strategies, it is imperative that state policy afford them the continued assurance that municipal government will not unduly interfere with their ability to make us of the energy choice that best serves those businesses’ needs,” the memo stated. “Consumer choice with respect to energy policy has yielded substantial economic and environmental benefits to the state, and we support S.B. 275 as a continuation of that successful public policy. We urge a yes vote.”
The bill now awaits further consideration by the full Senate.
Finally, this past week City & State PA published an op-ed written by Sunday, noting the major improvements in air quality achieved in the state over the past several decades, as a direct result of expanded natural gas production and use of a competitive electricity market. Sunday’s piece noted that as companies have expended billions in private capital in environmental and sustainability projects, emissions of federally regulated pollutants have declined substantially, with the state showing a seven-fold reduction in poor air quality days and near universal compliance with federal air standards. The piece also noted that this progress will continue provided the regulatory structure accommodates energy choice and flexibility on the part of industry.