Peco'sEnergyPlan Sparks Debate Over Renewable Transition

Pennsylvania's Public Utilities Commission is reviewing Peco's energy procurement plan, which proposes 8% renewable energy sources, including 0.5% in-state solar. The plan has sparked controversy among environmental groups and advocates, who argue it is insufficient and outdated.

Aqsa Younas Rana
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Peco'sEnergyPlan Sparks Debate Over Renewable Transition

Peco'sEnergyPlan Sparks Debate Over Renewable Transition

The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is currently reviewing Peco's energy procurement plan, which proposes to obtain 8% of its power from renewable sources, including 0.5% from in-state solar energy. The plan, part of Peco's default service program set to expire in May 2024, has ignited controversy over the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and its potential impact on consumers.

Why this matters: The outcome of Peco's energy plan will have far-reaching implications for Pennsylvania's commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and addressing climate change. As the state grapples with balancing energy affordability with environmental concerns, the decision will set a precedent for other energy companies and shape the future of renewable energy in the region.

Peco filed its 1,235-page purchase plan with the PUC in February, promising to continue obtaining the least expensive electric supply while maintaining its current renewable energy targets. The company claims this approach guards against price volatility. However, environmental groups and advocates argue the plan is insufficient and outdated.

Howard Sherman, a Peco customer from Lansdowne, testified before the PUC, stating,"In my opinion, these criteria are insufficient and outdated. No less important but missing in PECO's list of criteria are the safety and health of Pennsylvanians, as well as the urgent need to address our climate crisis. "Sherman also noted,"For every hundred dollars that PECO spends on energy, it plans to spend 50 cents on solar."

The PUC held two days of hearings on Peco's DSP at the end of April, with around 80 people testifying, including members of the Energy Justice Advocates (EJA), a group that includes POWER Interfaith, Vote Solar, Clean Air Council, Sierra Club, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and PennEnvironment. Critics contend that Peco should play a more significant role in encouraging renewables, starting with the energy supply mix.

In response, a Peco spokesperson stated that the company's filing is designed to comply with Pennsylvania law and regulations, which require procuring electricity at the least cost over time to ensure adequate and reliable service and price stability. The controversy comes amidst a broader effort to address climate change and transition from fossil fuels.

Pennsylvania ranks 50th in the nation for percent growth in total solar, wind, and geothermal generation since 2013, according to PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center's report "Renewables on the Rise 2023". The state's fossil fuel industry has pushed back against the transition to renewable energy, citing job losses and threats to grid resilience and reliability.

The PUC is expected to make a final decision on Peco's plan by October 2024. The outcome will have significant implications for Pennsylvania's energy landscape and its commitment to renewable energy sources. As the debate continues, the state grapples with balancing the need for affordable, reliable electricity with the urgent call to address climate change and embrace a cleaner energy future.