Way No. 12: Clean Energy Jobs

Wolf budget would reboot PA’s clean energy investments with portion of severance tax

In 2012, Pennsylvania was among the leaders in the Mid-Atlantic states for growing the solar energy industry. That year, solar companies installed 54.4 megawatts of solar power on homes, businesses, schools and farm fields in Pennsylvania, building on the 134.7 megawatts installed in the previous two years. About 4,000 people were working as solar component manufacturers, engineers, sales people and installers in 2012. Using standard estimates of additional jobs created in supply chains and at consumer businesses where solar industry and supply chain workers and business owners shop, the total jobs impact would be about 7,000.

Growth of solar jobs was boosted by the $100 million Pennsylvania Sunshine Program that provided rebates to homeowners, businesses, schools and other institutions that installed solar power projects. Unfortunately, after the initial funding for the program ended, the solar industry went into a steep decline, shedding 30 percent of its workforce. Meanwhile, solar jobs steadily grew in our neighboring states of New York, Maryland and New Jersey where state policies supporting solar power remain in place.

Gov. Wolf wants to reinvest $225 million in clean energy, including rebooting the Pennsylvania Sunshine Program. He proposes to finance this investment with a portion of his proposed severance tax on gas drilling. His clean energy package includes:

  • $50 million for a new Pennsylvania Sunshine Program;
  • $20 million for wind power projects;
  • $20 million for Green Agriculture for energy efficiency projects, bio-digesters and small wind projects;
  • $50 million for energy efficiency projects at small businesses, local governments, schools and non-profit organizations;
  • $30 million for co-generation projects that generate both heat and electricity;
  • $30 million for the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority; and,
  • $25 million to install “last mile” gas distribution lines to service manufacturing facilities.

These investments would create tens of thousands of clean energy jobs and help Pennsylvania reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide to comply with the required reductions of the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. In the Pennsylvania Green Jobs Report released in January 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry estimated that all of the state and federal policy drivers in place would catalyze the creation of 115,000 jobs.

More good jobs and a safer climate – it all depends on the passage of a severance tax on gas drillers.