This summer, the PA Public Utility Commission will review PECO’s Default Service Plan (DSP), which lays out how the utility will provide electricity over the next four years to the 70 percent of its customers who do not buy their power from alternative suppliers. As public officials in PECO’s service territory, we urge PECO to reconsider its proposal because the barriers it creates to clean energy are inconsistent with ratepayers’ demands for a clean energy future and with state and local clean energy goals. As our communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and grapple with the legacy of racism, we ask PECO to partner with us to turn big problems into bigger solutions.
The DSP presents an excellent opportunity for PECO to align its practice with ratepayers’ desires and with public policy in the Commonwealth. As we heard during nearly seven hours of public testimony last month, and as we hear regularly from our constituents, PECO’s ratepayers are worried about climate change. We recognize the threat fossil fuel dependence poses to public health, to the planet, and to the reliability of our electric supply. We are taking steps to champion legislation to combat the climate crisis, like H.B. 1425, which calls for an equitable and just transition to 100% renewable energy in the Commonwealth by 2050. And just as we push for responsible climate policy, we are calling on PECO to take action to fight the climate crisis as a community partner.
Expanding in-state renewable energy will strengthen local economies by creating thousands of family-sustaining jobs for Pennsylvanians. A 2018 report from the PA Department of Environmental Protection shows that moving Pennsylvania to 10 percent solar generation by 2030 would create roughly 130,000 jobs. This would lead to substantial local economic benefits and up to $1.6 billion in net annual state benefits through 2030.
Yet PECO proposes to include only 0.5% solar—the bare minimum amount required by law—in the DSP’s energy mix. This “bare minimum” approach is inconsistent with PECO’s stated support for legislation requiring more renewable energy procurement. It is disingenuous for PECO to tout support for policies with low likelihoods of advancing statewide. PECO’s customers deserve more than lip service. Pennsylvania has fallen far behind neighboring states in transitioning to a clean energy future, with only 479 megawatts of installed solar: New Jersey has 7 times as much with 3,321 MW, Maryland has 1,229 MW, and New York has 2,311 MW. Pennsylvanians see that the future is powered by clean energy. PECO must stop holding back that future – and must begin acting in partnership to bring it into being.
If PECO wants to support its communities, it cannot simply wait for action in Harrisburg – it can and must take action to put its own house in order. Most critically, PECO must remove barriers in its procurement process, including its exclusion of long-term contracts, that unjustly keep out clean energy. PECO has the opportunity to address its ratepayers’ needs and interests by incorporating more contracts for renewable energy procurement into its DSP.
PECO has a legal responsibility to provide adequate and reliable energy at the least cost over time. The prices of solar and wind generation have plummeted in recent years, and studies show that renewable energy will be less expensive than fossil fuel generation in the long term. PECO can and must stop excluding long-term contracts from its plan in order to allow more solar and wind to compete fairly.
Increasing renewable generation will bolster our grid’s resilience and reliability, improve public health and our regional economy. These benefits are crucial now more than ever, as our communities struggle with a respiratory pandemic whose devastation is most acutely felt by the same communities that have long borne the burdens of environmental racism. PECO is well-positioned to transition its default service to clean sources and kick-start a long overdue transition to a cleaner grid.
Find full list of officials in support of these statements at bit.ly/2CW9MjK
Stephen McCarter, PA House Representative HD 154, Montgomery County
Chris Rabb, PA House Representative HD 200, Philadelphia