Energy advocates say reliability of supply will help price

February 6, 2023

HARRISBURG, PA – Representatives of some of Pennsylvania’s biggest energy producers and consumers said joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will spike prices and that state government should protect competition in the marketplace.

The House Republican Policy Committee, holding a meeting in Harrisburg, held a hearing Monday on increasing energy costs that has pushed up costs for large and small businesses as well as homeowners. That matters especially in Pennsylvania, which not only is one of the most populous states in the United States but also is the second-largest exporter of electricity behind Texas. Energy impacts not only the coal and natural gas industries but also the large manufacturers that depend on coal-fired electricity and natural gas.

“Our energy industry provides us so many different opportunities that we could be enjoying in Pennsylvania,” said state Rep. Josh Kail, R-Beaver/Washington County and the House Republican Policy Committee chair. “I don’t believe we are getting the most of what we could.”

David Callahan, president of the Pittsburgh-based Marcellus Shale Coalition, and Rachel Gleason, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, said consumer choice of energy prices should remain at the forefront. Callahan said the government should not subsidize energy sources and that allowing competition in the wholesale energy market is best.

Gleason noted December’s cold blast, which led to power conservation warnings across the PJM Interconnection, exposed faults in the regional electrical grid. Coal-fired generation, which has been declining due to lower production and market changes, was required at a higher pace due to the emergency and could do so thanks to storage near plants.

“Winter Storm Elliott should raise many red flags in terms of reliability and price,” Gleason said. Gleason said that making sure energy sources are competing on a level playing field will help prices.

Pennsylvania’s potential for joining RGGI — which is in the courts right now — is also a major factor. RGGI provides carbon-based pricing that would, opponents say, increase energy costs. Advocates say that it will put a value on carbon emissions and prioritize cleaner fuels.

The hearing heard from opponents of RGGI.

“It will change the energy structure within this state. It will set energy policy in this state,” said Rod Williamson, executive director of Industrial Energy Consumers of Pennsylvania.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Kail said that Pennsylvania needs a “grounded in reality” energy policy.

“Pennsylvania has the answers. Harrisburg needs to stay out of the way,” Kail said.