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Shapiro’s Science Fiction Fantasy Equals Bad Energy Policy for PA

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As a candidate for governor, Josh Shapiro was indifferent, if not downright dismissive, of his predecessor’s extra-legal maneuvering to enact a carbon tax in Pennsylvania through membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). But as governor, Shapiro not only appealed Commonwealth Court’s rejection last fall of Tom Wolf’s RGGI plan as an unauthorized tax, but also introduced his own science fiction, Pennsylvania-specific version. As usual, with green energy proposals it comes with promises it can’t keep. In this case, the governor claims his proposal “PACER” (Pennsylvania Climate Emissions Reduction Act) and “PRESS” (Pennsylvania Reliable Energy Sustainability Standard) will reduce energy bills for most consumers when it will achieve precisely the opposite. Now Shapiro’s PACER plan would slap a carbon tax on generation, a point not missed by Senate Republicans, who have majority control.

“Our Commonwealth needs to be focused on unleashing our energy potential, not taxing it,” Senate President Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) said. “Doing so would create thousands of good jobs and keep our power grid secure. Shapiro’s carbon tax appears to be more aligned with states like California and Washington, who suffer from rolling blackouts and higher energy prices.”

Shapiro promised that no one will pay more for electricity, and many will pay less. It’s a fantasy.

Power PA Jobs Alliance calculations show that over five years PACER and PRESS, will cost ratepayers $2.66 billion under PACER and an additional $950 million under PRESS.

PRESS would be a massive expansion of PA ratepayer paid subsidies for out-of-state wind and solar developers. Shapiro’s plan would overthrow Pennsylvania’s competitive electricity market by forcing utilities to buy 50 percent of their electricity from government-chosen energy sources by 2035 in contrast to today’s 18 percent.

Boasting of new sources in the AEPS (Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard), Governor Shapiro said: “So not only will it be wind and solar anymore, but it’s also going to be methane digesters, new fusion technology, [and] small modular nuclear reactors.”

Boasting of new sources in the AEPS (Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard), Governor Shapiro said: “So not only will it be wind and solar anymore, but it’s also going to be methane digesters, new fusion technology, [and] small modular nuclear reactors.”

A recent analysis shows that when it comes to small modular nuclear reactors some, “real-world difficulties can be found in western states.”

Science.com states, “Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, a coalition of community-owned power systems in seven western states, withdrew from a deal to build the plant, designed by NuScale Power, because too few members agreed to buy into it. The project, subsidized by the U.S. Department of Energy, sought to revive the moribund U.S. nuclear industry, but its cost had more than doubled to $9.3 billion.” The report also said, “to some observers, the plan’s collapse also raises questions about the feasibility of other planned advanced reactors, meant to provide clean energy with fewer drawbacks than existing reactors.”

Scientists have worked for decades on capturing energy from fusion with scant success. A recent Space.com article stated, “But it turns out that fusion power is… hard. Really hard. Really complicated, Full of unexpected pitfalls and traps. We’ve been trying to build fusion generators for three-quarters of a century, and we’ve made a lot of progress — enormous, groundbreaking, horizon-expanding progress. But we’re not there yet. Fusion power has been one of those things that’s been ‘only 20 years away’ for about 50 years now.”

In the meantime, Pennsylvania does a stellar job of reducing carbon emissions without government control typified by the Shapiro plan. Recent Independent Fiscal Office data shows that over the past decade Pennsylvania has dramatically reduced its carbon emissions while increasing energy production.

Pennsylvania is the largest exporter of electricity, second largest producer of natural gas, and third largest producer of coal in America. We power the grid, and our production is essential to American energy leadership and national security. Governor Shapiro’s energy tax will stifle Pennsylvania’s energy production. Pennsylvania is leading on reducing carbon emissions while contributing to America’s energy leadership. Shapiro would be wise to stop chasing science fiction and let consumer choice and competition succeed.

Carl A. Marrara is executive director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, a statewide business organization representing the interests of manufacturers in Pennsylvania’s public policy process since 1909. Contact him at 717/232-0737 or visit pamanufacturers.org.