Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture)


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Session Daze Mast

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March madness on a much larger court
While the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments have captivated many Americans in their dens and living rooms, the true March madness has been taking place outdoors. Over 7,000 high temperature records have been exceeded or matched in the U.S. since March 12 according to Climate Central, giving us a taste of what global warming might have in store for us.

We’re on thin ice
The National Wildlife Federation’s “On Thin Ice” report provides an in depth look at how higher winter temperatures are wreaking havoc on recreational opportunities for hunters and anglers (not to mention the wildlife). Unveiling the report in Erie yesterday, NWF’s Ed Perry likened the climate to “a baseball player on steroids,” and reminded us that Pennsylvania enjoys $4.5 billion in economic activity every year from hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation activities. The Erie Times is including a poll in its coverage: click through to cast your vote in support of critical message of this report.

Time to go on a carbon pollution diet
This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first standard for carbon pollution from power plants under the Clean Air Act. The standard will apply to future fossil fuel power plants that have not already been permitted. Most new natural gas plants will easily meet the standard, but coal plants will have great difficulty doing so without incorporating new technologies such as carbon capture and storage.

This week’s PennFuture Facts takes a closer look at the proposed EPA carbon pollution standard.

Senate passes stormwater bill
The Pennsylvania Senate this week unanimously passed legislation that would give municipalities another tool to address stormwater and flooding problems. Senate Bill 1261 is sponsored by Senator Ted Erickson, R-Delaware. The bill allows local governments to create stormwater authorities. These authorities could benefit local governments by providing them with sources of funding to tackle stormwater planning and projects, and facilitate the creation of multi-municipal authorities to address stormwater issues on a watershed basis.

SB 1261 now goes to the House Local Government Committee chaired by Representative Tom Creighton, R-Lancaster.

A preview of coming attractions
This Monday the Senate is expected to consider three more innovative pieces of legislation:

  • The full Senate is expected to vote on Senate Bill 1150 that would provide tax credits for the renovation of historic commercial buildings. State incentives for the restoration of historic buildings will assist the revitalization of our older communities. SB 1150 is sponsored by Senator Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster.
  • The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee chaired by Senator Mary Jo White, R-Venango, will consider green building legislation sponsored by Senator John Rafferty, R-Montgomery. Senate Bill 1136 would require high performance standards for major building projects involving most state-owned buildings and some state-leased buildings.
  • The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee chaired by Senator Gene Yaw, R-Lycoming, will consider land bank legislation that would help tackle the problems created by the 300,000 vacant and often blighted properties in Pennsylvania. House Bill 1682, sponsored by Representative John Taylor, R-Philadelphia, would allow counties and municipalities to establish land banks that will work to return these vacant properties to productive use.
  • A good “net” result
    The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) issued a Final Order this week allowing third-party operators of distributed renewable energy generation systems to “net meter.” “Net metering” refers to the ability of small renewable energy systems to receive credit for generating excess electricity that goes back to the grid. PennFuture submitted comments in this proceeding supporting the position of the PUC.

    The third-party ownership or power purchase agreement (PPA) model is a growing trend in helping to finance renewable energy systems. A PPA is a financial arrangement whereby a building owner (residential or commercial) allows a third-party developer to install, own, operate and maintain a clean energy system such as a solar photovoltaic (PV) array on its property and agrees to purchase the power produced for a fixed price and term. The building owner benefits from a stable and sometimes lower price of electricity from the clean energy system without having to worry about the maintenance and operation of the system. The developer is able to acquire tax credits while generating income from the sale of clean power to the building owner.

    The Final Order clarifies that customers participating in a third-party PPA model will still be entitled to net meter as long as the system does not generate more than 110 percent of the customer's annual electric consumption, or cumulative consumption of all meters in the case of virtual net metering. PennFuture commends the PUC for issuing this order, which will allow for more customers to participate in this innovative financing model.

    PennFuture's Session Daze is designed to be a brief, informative and occasionally humorous look at public policy in Pennsylvania. Please visit our website for more information about PennFuture.

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