PA Chamber Government Affairs Director Kevin Sunday testified last week about the positive impact the energy sector has brought to Pennsylvania’s business climate throughout the year-long COVID-19 pandemic and the indispensable role that energy plays in helping with the state and nation’s economic resurgence. The informational meeting hosted by the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee focused on the status of Pennsylvania’s natural gas economy and opportunities for energy industry growth.
During his testimony, Sunday touted Pennsylvania’s status as the No. 1 power-producing state on the 13 state PJM grid. While Texas and Midwest states were experiencing crippling blackouts last week, PJM was sending record amounts of power to the Midwest to help with the situation.
While Pennsylvania has long been known to have a diverse and robust energy infrastructure, it is also the No. 2 producer of natural gas in the nation – a fairly recent development. Sunday said that it wasn’t that long ago that the Commonwealth and other states along the Eastern seaboard were pulling gas up from the Gulf of Mexico. If not for the presence of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and the buildout of pipeline infrastructure to get the gas to market, gas supply issues experienced in Texas could have spread to the rest of the country. Instead, the lights and the heat stayed on in Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic in the face of extreme winter weather conditions.
Sunday emphasized how this reality is a testament to smart market design, as PJM provides a good incentive to plan long-term on electricity capacity. Pennsylvania has taken strides to lead on competitive power markets and the development of shale gas – the results of which have been not only a record setting reduction in electric and gas commodity costs, but also in Pennsylvania emerging as a leading state for greenhouse gas and NAAQS emissions reductions.
Sunday concluded his testimony to the committee by warning that elected officials must tread very carefully in making sweeping changes to our energy and electricity policies. “As the United States looks to rebuild and reshore manufacturing, Pennsylvania must take a leadership role in laying down policies that will attract investment,” Sunday said. “It has been said the pandemic brought a decade’s worth of change in 10 months’ time – we were falling behind before this pandemic; we cannot lose the race afterwards.”