An Outlook on Pennsylvania’s Renewable Energy Future

While we’re working to increase renewable energy as a country, the future of renewable energy also varies by state. Some (like West Virginia and New Mexico) are just beginning to produce solar, wind, or hydro power while others (like Idaho and Maine) are already running entirely on them.

Our PA electrical experts came across an interesting article by Court Gould in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that discusses Pennsylvania’s renewable energy future. We thought we’d share:

“Here in Pennsylvania, energy production is a part of our history and an integral component of our economy.

In the past, coal powered our state forward. Now, natural-gas development might seem as though it will be the energy source of the future. But Pennsylvania’s energy future can be more varied and propulsive than one powered by fossil fuels alone. We must forge a clean-energy future powered by renewable energy to advance a healthy citizenry and prosperous economy. And we are making progress.

Natural gas is not the end game. Indeed, an economic vision based on a finite fossil fuel is inherently unsustainable. Rather, natural gas must be positioned as a transition to a truly renewable-energy economic vision, particularly as our world gets hotter, access to traditional sources of energy becomes more volatile and natural resources become more scarce.

Already, renewable energy and energy-efficiency measures are surging to constitute a large and fast-growing segment of our state employee base. Recently, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) and the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance (KEEA) released the “Clean Jobs Pennsylvania 2017” report, providing timely insight into the fast rise of employment in the clean-energy sector (principally wind, solar and hydropower) and in energy efficiency, clean vehicles and smart-grid technology (which makes our electricity system more flexible and renewables friendly). The types of jobs include those in construction, manufacturing, professional services such as engineering, software development, marketing and many others. Clean-energy jobs are for everyone, and they are everywhere.

Nearly 70,000 Pennsylvanians have clean-energy jobs, with the report finding an increase of 6 percent from last year and strong projected future growth. Total employment is double that of fossil fuels.

Clean energy is a job-creation powerhouse, and we can put even more Pennsylvanians to work in this sector. In fact, the nation’s fastest-growing occupation is wind-turbine technician, with an average salary of $52,000 per year and expected job growth of 108 percent by 2024.

Consider that renewables constitute only 5 percent of Pennsylvania energy sources, compared with the national average of 15 percent. Yet jobs across the clean-energy spectrum (including those such as building retrofit, high-efficiency HVAC installation and so on) grew by an astonishing 15 percent in Pennsylvania over the past two years…

U.S. utilities alone invested $7.5 billion in energy efficiency and demand-side management last year, up 17 percent over the previous five years. When you also consider the 60 percent growth in the global market for electric vehicles in 2016, it’s clear that the clean-energy economy is driving innovations in the transportation sector, too, providing job opportunities for programmers, engineers, production workers, installers and technicians. These opportunities create sustainable livelihoods and better living in a more climate-stable, less-polluted world — not to mention additional tax revenue for infrastructure and public services.

Allegheny County already is highly ranked in Pennsylvania in clean-energy jobs. And regional leaders are coming together to develop an energy-efficiency and renewable-energy plan to further accelereate southwestern Pennsylvania’s sustainable development.

Our economic prosperity in coming decades should not be staked on natural-gas growth alone. Leading companies such as Apple, Google and Amazon have corporate clean-energy goals that Pennsylvania should position itself to meet. If we hope to land Amazon’s second headquarters, for instance, we must create a healthier, job-rich economy based on renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

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