Solar power advocates’ fight to triple the state’s costly solar energy mandates took a new turn this week. Proponents, including DEP Secretary Hanger and Governor Rendell, urged the legislature to attach a higher solar mandate to a natural gas regulation bill.
The bill, which increases fines for pipeline safety violations from $10,000 to $100,000 a day, has already passed the Pennsylvania House and is now before the Senate Consumer Protection Committee. Intended to prevent future leaks and spills, the pipeline legislation is completely unrelated to solar energy.
The move signals the desperation of solar advocates whose industry is already dependent on government subsidies. Solar proponents were unable to increase solar mandates in the past two years, despite a friendly governor and large lobbying efforts to pass HB 80 and HB 2405, which would have increased the government mandated levels for all sources of renewable energy as defined in the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards.
The Solar-Pipeline Bill is a “Hail Mary” attempt to further reward the solar industry companies and lobbyists.