Pennsylvania ranks near the bottom of states when it comes to generating renewable energy.
Data from the federal Energy Information Administration shows Pennsylvania comes in 45th in the country in energy production from wind, solar, and hydropower. Only 3% of total energy comes from those sources in the state.
Sharon Pillar, executive director of the Pennsylvania Solar Center, said that’s partly because the state is lagging far behind others on renewable energy goals.
Pennsylvania last updated its targets, called the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards, in 2004. The standards called for 8% of electricity sales to come from renewable sources by 2021. The state met that goal, using power imported from other states.
“Even just bumping up the goals is an indicator and a signal that Pennsylvania is open for business, we want renewable energy development,” Pillar said. “It makes a big difference for investors.”
She said money from the federal Inflation Reduction Act should drive new renewables projects, but that other states with more aggressive goals will probably see new development first.
Pillar said lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are becoming more supportive of solar energy as their constituents demand it.
“We do see that there is an understanding of the economic benefits that it’s bringing, and especially with electricity rates, how they’ve spiked in the last couple of years. It’s really a huge opportunity,” Pillar said.
About 95% of proposed electric generation projects in the region that serves Pennsylvania are renewables. That’s largely because the cost of building new solar energy plants has fallen dramatically in the last several years.
Governor Josh Shapiro pledged during his campaign to have the commonwealth generate 30% of its energy from renewables by 2030.
This story is produced in partnership with StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration among The Allegheny Front, WPSU, WITF and WHYY to cover the commonwealth's energy economy.