News Release

New study shows PA middle of the road for tapping into clean energy

For Immediate Release

[Philadelphia, PA] -- According to a new report released today by the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center,  Pennsylvania has seen major increases in the amount of electricity it gets from the sun and wind since 2008, but the report shows that there’s still a long way to go for the state to become a national leader.

The report, Renewables on the Rise: A Decade of Progress Positions America for a 100% Renewable Future, provides a state-by-state assessment of the growth of key technologies needed to power the nation with clean, renewable energy, including wind, solar, energy efficiency, energy storage and electric vehicles.

Within these categories, Pennsylvania ranked 18 out of all fifty states for solar electricity generation, 19th for wind electricity generation, 11th for efficiency, 15th for number of electric vehicles sold, and 8th for increase in battery storage.  This demonstrates that the Commonwealth is making significant headway in some areas, but continues to lag overall as clean energy continues to grow nationwide. Only 2.7 percent of Pennsylvania’s total energy comes from wind and solar generation - ranking Pennsylvania 34th in the country.

"This report gives Pennsylvania a mixed report card," stated Kelly Flanigan, Global Warming Solutions Associate for PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center. "There are certainly some sectors where Pennsylvania is in the top tier like energy storage and electric cars, but the state has some real work to do to tap into the growing solar and wind potential with its average rankings."

The report describes the factors that lead to growth in each category since 2008, including policies, improved technologies, and lower costs. All of this points to  the potential for continued rapid growth in the years to come.

“We’ve built a good foundation, working in a bipartisan fashion in Harrisburg to pass new laws to improve Pennsylvania’s solar programs and to create new energy conservation programs over the past year,” said Flanigan. “But Pennsylvania must build on that foundation and pass House Bill 2132 and Senate Bill 1140, which will require Pennsylvania to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.”

“As Pennsylvanians, we have a Constitutionally-protected right to ‘clean air, pure water and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment.’ We must continue to assert ourselves in defending and supporting those rights,” said State Senator Andy Dinniman. “I want to thank PennEnvironment for being a statewide leader in those efforts. And rest assured that I will continue to champion and support efforts to promote renewable energy and resources.”

The report comes as a diverse group of U.S. cities, states, corporations and institutions commit to 100 percent renewable energy. In 2015, Hawaii became the first state in the country to set a 100 percent renewable energy requirement, and similar bills in both Massachusetts and California have cleared major hurdles this year. At the local level, 61 American cities, led by a mix of Republican and Democratic mayors, have committed to that goal, including Pennsylvania municipalities like West Chester, Downingtown, and others. Local universities are also on the path to 100 percent renewable energy.

“West Chester University, with commitments documented in our Climate Action Plan and Strategic Plan, is working to reduce our carbon emissions from all sources of energy,” said Brad Flamm, Director of Sustainability for West Chester University. “We have invested in small solar arrays and promoted renewable energy development by buying RECs. And we’re exploring other strategies – including renewable energy power purchase agreements – that will help us continue on a path towards carbon neutrality. We’re proud of the progress we’ve made and ready to do our part by continually reducing our carbon emissions.”

In addition, 131 major companies, including Bank of America, Google, and Anheuser-Busch have committed to power their operations with 100 percent renewable energy.

“The reality is inescapable: fossil fuels pollute our air, water and land, threatening our health and changing our climate even faster than scientists predicted. We need to seize the moment, build on recent progress and lean into a future powered by clean, renewable energy, said Flanigan. “Repowering our economy with clean, renewable energy can put our nation on a healthier, more sustainable course. And with rapid improvements in technology, vast clean energy resources, and a willing public, a future powered entirely by clean, renewable energy is increasingly within our reach.”

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PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives. For more information, visitwww.pennenvironmentcenter.org