PA Chamber: Renewable Energy, Yes; Mandates, No

Member Group : PA Chamber of Business and Industry

Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010

PA Chamber: renewable energy, yes, mandates, no

HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry today urged the Commonwealth to embrace an energy strategy that includes both traditional and renewable sources within the framework of the free enterprise system.

"While some lawmakers and environmental groups continue to advocate government mandates and taxpayer subsidies as the best solutions for Pennsylvania’s energy future, the long-term interest of the Commonwealth and its residents will be best served by allowing market forces to determine viable and affordable energy options," said Gene Barr, PA Chamber vice president of government and public affairs. "This includes alternative and fossil fuels, as both will be needed to meet the ever-increasing demand for energy."

Barr said the business community’s opposition to legislation (H.B. 80) that would extend government mandates for specific forms of alternative energy has been mischaracterized by proponents who mistakenly interpret commonsense arguments against a well-meaning but misguided bill to mean blanket opposition to alternative energy in general.

"The problem with House Bill 80," Barr explained, "is the approach to alternative energy policy it espouses – having government create a market for specific types of energy, and then subsidizing it to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars."

Barr said this approach thwarts innovation and leads to inflexibility with regard to alternative energy.

"By shutting out one-third of the market, which would occur under House Bill 80, Pennsylvania is essentially shutting out alternative energies that may not even be developed yet and may not get developed because they wouldn’t be included on some arbitrary list of qualifying alternative energy sources," he said, stressing that government cannot adequately predict what the next alternative energy breakthrough might be next year, let alone five or 10 years from now.
In addition, estimates are that the additional mandates could add as much as $9 billion to $12 billion to the cost of electricity purchases in future years at a time when job creators and residents can least afford it.



Barr said the related job creation debate also needs to be put into perspective.

"Of course government mandates create jobs," Barr said. "But those jobs are paid for with taxpayer dollars and come at higher costs for consumers. Looking long-term, this is not a strategy for success. Government and/or government subsidized job creation cannot occur at the expense of private sector job growth."

Barr said lawmakers should learn a lesson from some European countries in which the government mandate approach to energy policy has proven more expensive than beneficial.

Pennsylvania will need all forms of energy in its mix. The free market is best for ensuring the availability of affordable, viable options from which businesses and individuals can make the best choices to meet their needs. With deregulation, consumers can already purchase energy from alternative sources if they desire to do so. Under H.B. 80, the ability to choose would be diminished.


Founded in 1916, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state’s largest broad-based business advocacy organization in the Commonwealth. PA Chamber members comprise businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of Business.