Monday, September 21, 2009

A big environmental issue awaits PA lawmakers

For three months, state lawmakers in Pennsylvania have been twiddling their thumbs as Governor Rendell and Legislative leaders played hard ball over the state's 2010 budget.

The weekend's news that a budget resolution may be at hand means that lawmakers may finally get back to work on a major environmental bill, HB 80, that would boost Pennsylvania's energy portfolio standards and increase credits for solar-energy installations.

The legislation also provides benefits to traditional energy generators in Pennsylvania by modifying the legal definition of "alternative energy sources" (usually reserved for wind, solar and thermal) to include "advanced coal combustion" and "incremental nuclear energy" facilities.

It also contains provisions that encourage the development of carbon capture and sequestration -- another biggie for the coal industry.

Today's Philadelphia Inquirer story Pa. solar-power legislation in cooling-off phase focuses on how the legislation would help solar-energy installers, and on how a dispute between a state electrical contractors union and non-union solar companies may be headed for a resolution.

A similar dispute was debated in the New Jersey Legislature several months ago over a bill that reserved for union installers all solar projects using state funds, including solar credits.

Solar installers and several New Jersey business organizations opposed the measure, while environmental organizations were unusually quiet. The legislation ultimately passed but was amended to exempt residential installations.

Solar advocates urge veto of NJ union wage bill
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