A new study by Penn State scholars found Pennsylvania’s alternative energy mandates will cost taxpayers up to $60 million next year and up to $440 million in ten years. Twenty-five to 30 percent of this price tag stems from meeting the state’s solar requirements.
While solar looks bright on the surface, any jobs that depend on government assistance are overshadowed by a dependency on taxpayer pocket books. According to the Federal Energy Information Administration, solar energy producers already get 55 times more subsidies per megawatt hour than coal, and 95 times more than natural gas. Moreover, state solar energy is 10 times more expensive than electricity from natural gas and nearly six times more expensive than coal.
Given that Pennsylvania families can ill afford higher energy costs in this sluggish economy, Harrisburg policymakers are pushing a bill that would make these mandates more expensive.
House Bill 1580 would require that all solar credits used to fulfill the state’s mandate be purchased from in-state companies, instead of companies within the PJM territory (PJM manages the electricity market in Pennsylvania and in all or parts of 12 other states and the District of Columbia).
The Penn State study shows that Maryland and Jersey—states in the PJM market that already require solar credits be purchased in-state—have solar credit prices that average 40 percent and 160 percent higher than Pennsylvania.
So just to recap, solar power drives up electricity prices for consumers, while lower prices for natural gas are reducing consumers’ electric bills and saving Pennsylvanians on heating costs. Yet legislators are considering mandating the former and taxing the latter.
To learn more about Pennsylvania’s alternative energy mandates, known as the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards, click here.