Otten, Abney prepare House bills to enact Shapiro administration energy plan

Bills would install PACER, PRESS, positioning PA for growth, cleaner future

HARRISBURG, March 20 – State Reps. Danielle Friel Otten and Aerion Abney have begun circulating House legislative sponsorship memos advancing the Shapiro administration’s bold new energy plan for Pennsylvania, which was announced last week.

The legislators each introduced a core component of Gov. Josh Shapiro’s initiative: the Pennsylvania Reliable Energy Sustainability Standard (PRESS) and Pennsylvania Climate Emission Reduction (PACER) Program.

PRESS would continue the successful elements of Pennsylvania’s forward thinking but outdated Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards while making them more inclusive -- adding nuclear power and next-generation technologies such as fusion, as well as incentivizing lower emissions for gas-fired power plants. It would require Pennsylvania to get 50% of its electricity from a diverse range of energy resources by 2035, including 35% from solar, wind, small modular reactors, and fusion; 10% from sources like large hydropower and battery storage; and 5% from natural gas and other alternative fuels.

“Sustainable standards are a conversation that’s been underway since my first year in the legislature, and I’m extremely glad that a serious discussion has come to the forefront,” said Otten, D-Chester. “The collective attention on this issue is promising. As a lead sponsor on the governor’s proposed plan in the House, I feel well positioned to assure that we develop the strongest possible standards and ultimately advance an energy plan that delivers net improvements in emissions, reliability and resilience. 

“We are still finalizing the bill language, and I look forward to working with a trusted group of climate leaders to ensure the best possible outcomes for our climate and our commonwealth.”

The PACER Program is a key part of Shapiro’s energy strategy, calling for the commonwealth to establish a Pennsylvania-specific price on carbon emissions and require large emitters to pay their fair share. The proceeds would be invested in utility rebates and projects that create jobs in clean energy and cut air pollution.

“PACER is a bold vision that allows Pennsylvania to reimagine a climate future that benefits all residents and protects our environment. This legislation would provide a much-needed bridge to a more renewable future, foster economic growth, and move us closer toward environmental justice,” said Abney, D-Allegheny.

Companion Senate bills were also announced today, making the plan a priority across Pennsylvania’s General Assembly.

“We must act now to reduce our carbon emissions for this generation and the next one,” said state Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Minority Chair Carolyn Comitta, who is sponsor of the Senate PACER bill. “And with PACER, we can do it while supporting job growth, transitioning to clean energy, and saving consumers money on their electricity bills. We all have a role to play in addressing climate change and this legislation benefits every family in every community across the commonwealth.”

“I have long said that it’s a false premise to say we must choose between creating jobs or saving our planet,” said state Sen. Steve Santarsiero, D-Bucks, who is sponsor of the Senate bill for PRESS. “I am proud to see Governor Shapiro leading the way and bringing together the interests of consumers, labor and the environment to find a solution that works for all of us.”

Otten, who chairs the House Climate Caucus, also added that by updating Pennsylvania’s outdated clean-energy targets under PRESS, the commonwealth can both advance climate goals and help Pennsylvania compete for renewable energy projects and clean-energy jobs.

“Raising our renewable energy targets so that more of the energy on our power grid stems from clean, renewable sources would save Pennsylvania residents and businesses money on their utility bills, while creating new family-sustaining jobs and cutting emissions,” she said.

“We also now have a historic opportunity to incentivize renewable energy development in our commonwealth through federal Inflation Reduction Act funds and re-establish Pennsylvania as a competitor and a leader in our nation’s clean-energy economy.”

According to the Shapiro administration, if passed by the legislature, in their first five years, PACER and PRESS are projected to save ratepayers an estimated $252 million, create nearly 15,000 energy jobs, and generate $5.1 billion in investment in clean, reliable energy sources.