The Pennsylvania House Consumer Affairs Committee has yet to vote on the Pennsylvania House Solar Bill (“HB 1580”). The Pennsylvania General Assembly is now in recess for the summer and will convene again starting on September 24, 2012.
After facing opposition in the House Consumer Affairs Committee hearing in January, HB 1580 has faced significant changes. As the bill currently stands, HB 1580 contains language to increase the renewable portfolio standard’s (“RPS“) solar carve-out from 2013-2015, and then subsequently decrease the solar carve-out in the final three years. This balance was introduced as an amendment to the original bill to help alleviate the cost to the ratepayers over the course of the RPS. HB 1580 no longer contains language to close the borders to out of state systems. This addresses opposition concerns with the potential violation of the Interstate Commerce Clause. On the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s website, the listed version of HB 1580 does not include these changes as they have only been introduced and have not been voted on. The hope is the House Consumer Affairs Committee will again consider HB 1580 and these amendments once they return from summer recess.
The Pennsylvania House leadership remains divided on the issue. House Speaker, Representative Sam Smith (R – 66th District), currently supports running this bill, while House Majority Leader, Representative Mike Turzai (R – 28th District), and House Consumer Affairs Committee Chairman, Representative Robert Godshall (R – 53rd District), do not support the forward progress of HB 1580.
On the Senate side, due to the stalling of HB 1580, Senator David Argall (R – 29th District) was said to have introduced the senate version of HB 1580 in late June 2012. This bill is known as Senate Bill 1350 (“SB 1350”). Unlike HB 1580, SB 1350 will contain the language to close the borders to out of state systems and will include an acceleration of the solar carve-out to alleviate the oversupply in the market. This bill, however, is not currently listed on the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s website and has not been referred by the committee. The aim of the Senate version of the PA Solar Bill is to provide a countering force to the stalled House Bill and to afford increased leverage for the movement and success of one of these pieces of legislation.
Until the PA Assembly passes legislation, the state’s solar renewable energy credit (“SREC“) market will continue to face an oversupply of over three (3) times the current requirement and SREC prices will face a steady decline. Even with the slight increase in the requirement from 41 MW to 66 MW for Energy Year 2013 (which started in June 2012), the SREC market still remains severely oversupplied. The Pennsylvania solar industry, as a whole, may also continue to take a hit as the incentives for solar continue to decrease without the necessary government support.
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