Governor visits Etown’s solar field to announce new solar energy bill

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Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf greeted government officials and Elizabethtown College students and faculty at the College’s solar field to sign House Bill 118, which encourages Pennsylvanians to produce and use their own efficient energy sources.

House Bill 118 was signed into law as Act 40 Monday, Oct. 30, according to the PA Environment Digest Blog. The purpose of this law was to make it so that in Pennsylvania, credits generated outside of the state could not be redeemed.

Wolf called this a “game changer” because when Pennsylvanians could use the credits gained from using energy from other states, there was no incentive for Pennsylvania to go solar, so 26 percent of the renewable energy in Pennsylvania could be contributed to other states.

Wolf explained that now is the time for the state to get involved because Pennsylvanians must work to “build diverse and robust renewable energy” in order to make future projects possible.

According to Wolf, “solar installer” is a very up-and-coming job that is expected to grow very quickly in the next few years because by 2021, 18 percent of all energy is expected to be from renewable sources.

Because of how fast-growing this job market is, “we need to make sure that [this influx of jobs] comes to Pennsylvania,” Wolf said.

In fact, an increase in renewable energy sources could create over 3,000 jobs throughout Pennsylvania. He is hoping that this bill will help with “finding Pennsylvania’s solar future,” which will lead to a report that will create a pathway to a cleaner future.

Representative Mike Carroll, the chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, discussed the commitment of the leaders of the state to advance Pennsylvania’s energy usage and seeing to it that the state is making great strides for years to come.

Pennsylvania State Senator Mario Scavello highlighted the success that Pennsylvania has already generated through the new ideas of renewable energy.

He also said that there are already companies moving to Pennsylvania and that more businesses are starting to invest in renewable energy because of the solar credits, which can help bring money into businesses.

Scavello said that Pennsylvania is “at the point right now where we are going to be able to grow.”

The College was awarded a grant for half a million dollars to build the solar array, which is the largest solar array in the state, and it has been benefitting from it ever since.

Twenty percent of the College’s energy stems from the array. The solar array at Etown provides countless research and educational opportunities for many different disciplines of students and faculty, such as engineers and environmental scientists.

Etown Sustainability Committee Chair Robert Wallett is quoted on the Etown website’s Sustainability Committee section saying, “I am most proud of the large-scale solar array. This was a team effort among the College, Community Energy, and local and state government that will have lasting benefits to the College and surrounding community.”

When asked what he wants Etown students to know and consider moving forward, Wolf said that “this is a part of a whole redirection for Pennsylvania” and that the Pennsylvanian government has been making great strides.

He says that the main concerns with the commerce clause for Act 40 have been figured out, meaning that where there were questions as to whether Pennsylvania was allowed to not count credits from other states, but these concerns have been addressed.

“It is great to see Elizabethtown making such strides,” Wolf said.

Meghan Kenney

www.etownian.com