Crunch time for HB 1580
By Andrew Kleeman
House Bill 1580 (Ross-R, Chester County) was finally heard in House Consumer Affair Committee (Chair: Godshall-R, Montgomery County) on January 11, 2012. A link to the complete audio transcript of the Hearing will be available soon at the PASEIA/MSEIA web site - http://www.mseia.net/. You can also request a written transcript from any of the three PASEIA board members listed at the bottom of this email update. This update contains the following sections:
Points of Opposition
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In the weeks leading up to the 3rd rescheduled Committee Hearing on 1-11-12, the Coal Lobby and the PA Chamber of Commerce chimed in as staunch opponents. The PA PUC also issued a split (3 to 2) opposition opinion. PECO and PPL also testified in opposition of the Bill. Chairman Godshall and most of the questioning Committee members were overtly more friendly to the opponent testimony. Conversely, all points of view were heard and the testimony from PASEIA and seven other heard proponents was compelling. We probably still have enough votes to pass this Bill, if we can get it out of Committee.
The political power of some of our opponents has diminished the inertia of the Bill. We have certainly lost some of the 111 co-sponsors and a few of the on-the-fence committee members. Rep. Ross and Sen. Argall remain committed to this Bill and it still has a real chance of passing, but we continue to face an uphill battle.
If this Bill fails, we (PASEIA) believe the PA solar industry is essentially dead until at least the summer of 2014. Currently, the state has 173 MW of systems which can trade SRECS (130 in state, 43 imported), against an RPS of only 44 MW. We are nearly 300% oversupplied at this time and the few PA SRECS that are trading are going for about $20 on the spot market.
Perhaps even more importantly, if our efforts fail, and the PA SREC market is truly collapsed, the event will send a cold chill through the finance community in all states where SRECs are an element of solar power system finance.
Points of Opposition:
The key points of opposition all revolve around this issues of (1) cost to ratepayers, (2) closing the borders, and (3) conceptual opposition to government subsidies for one specific form or energy.
With regard to the 1st point (cost to ratepayers), we had already demonstrated that the effective cost of the RPS acceleration was less than a penny per day to a typical PA rate payer. We have now taken it even further: Rep. Ross is about to introduce an amendment to the Bill that credits the later years of the RPS with approximately the same number of SRECs that are to be debited in the next few years. In other words, we are now proposing to simply “borrow” the SRECs now from future years.
With regard to point (2), legal counsel from one of our members submitted a strong legal opinion on why closing the borders is NOT a violation of the federal Commerce Clause. Finally, with regard to point (3), we have attempted to illustrate the folly of this point, in deference to the reality that every form of energy, including fossil fuels is heavily subsidized – our subsidy is just more transparent and more easily measured. Our coalition partner, PennFuture did a terrific analysis of energy subsidies in PA – see http://www.pennfuture.org/media_pfr_detail.aspx?MediaID=1379#top
The next development will be introduction of the Ross Amendment – jsut this morning we recieved a final draft of the Amendment, and it should be formally released imminently. The Consumer Affairs Committee will then (hopefully) schedule a vote among its members. The outcome of that vote will define the subsequent steps.
At PASEIA, we are at an essential stand-still due to funding limitations. We wisely invested just over $50,000 in 2010 to get us to where we are today – exclusive of the value of the hundreds of hours donated by a relatively small member group.
While most of our larger members have made contributions at or above the $2,500 level, and many smaller company members have made $100 to $1,000 contributions, many in the PA solar industry have made no contribution at all. Even a dozen PA systems owners have made $25 to $500 contributions. Have you done your part?
If we are to continue our lobby efforts, and succeed, we need you financial support now. Please do what you can now – timing is critical. It would be a disgrace to have gotten so close to saving the PA solar industry and PA SREC market to loose it all now. Contributions can be made on line at http://www.mseia.net/ (see “PA Donate” button top right of page), or by contacting any of the following Board members to request in invoice from which to pay:
Ron Celentano CelentanoR@aol.com
Andrew Kleeman firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Newman email@example.com
Ron, Mike, Andrew, and the entire PA Solar Industry