The Department of Environmental Protection published notice in the August 20 PA Bulletin the final 2015 PA Climate Change Action Plan Update and Comment/Response Document is now available on DEP’s Climate Change webpage.
The Pennsylvania Climate Change Act of 2008 mandated the Climate Change Action Plan in 2009 as well as updates every three years. The last Plan Update was delivered to the Governor in December 2013.Few of the 52 recommendations in the 2009 Plan Update were implemented. None of the legislative recommendations made in the 2013 Plan Update (page 78) were enacted.
The Plan Update was prepared with the advice of the Climate Change Advisory Committee, but the analysis and recommendations are DEP’s.
The updated Plan discusses the reductions in greenhouse gases that have been achieved, provides 13 work plans covering recommendations for additional emission reductions by source sectors and makes recommendations for legislative action.
The individual work plans are products of the Climate Change Advisory Committee and were voted on by the Committee.
The Action Plan Update, as a whole, is a product of DEP, with advice offered by the Advisory Committee, but it has not been “approved” by the Committee.
The scope of the Action Plan Update is much broader than EPA’s Clean Power Climate Plan requirements, which only covers electric power generation.
The goal of the PA Climate Action Plan is to find cost-effective measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions more broadly, although the latest Plan has no overall emissions reduction goal.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Overall, Pennsylvania’s greenhouse gas emissions are projected to be lower in 2030, the target year, than in the 2000 baseline year in the Plan.
Pennsylvania saw an 11 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions from 2000 to 2012, although including the impact of carbon sinks (forests, agriculture), the decrease was 15.9 percent.
In electricity production, greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants dropped from 111.04 million tons in 2000 to 82.93 million tons in 2012 due to retirements of coal plants and increased use of natural gas. Oil-fired power plants also had a dramatic decrease from 3.37 million tons to 0.27 million tons.
Natural gas-fired power plant emissions increased from 1.13 million tons to 21.57 million tons from 2000 to 2012.
Climate Change Impacts
The Update Plan also includes a report by Penn State University’s Environment and Natural Resources Institute on the potential impact of climate change on human health, the economy and the management of economic risk, forests, wildlife, fisheries, creation, agriculture and tourism in Pennsylvania.
Cost Effectiveness of Recommendations
Also include is a report on the economic impact of individual work plans prepared for DEP by the Center for Climate Strategies.
Based on the costs and savings analysis developed by DEP for 12 of the 13 work plans the macroeconomic analysis of those work plans shows that the majority have real potential to generate not only GHG reductions but also significant improvements in total employment, total income and real disposable personal income.
The results suggest that implementing all 12 work plans would result in significant employment gains, while reducing energy use enough to actually lower total gross domestic product (GDP).
The final Update ranked these work plan groupings of recommendations as most cost-effective. In order, these are the top 5-- Energy Efficiency Financing [noted as “not quantified”], Semi-Truck Freight Transportation, Act 129 Phase IV and V, GeoExchange Heat Pump Systems and Heating Oil Conservation and Fuel Switching.
And then-- High Performance (Green Buildings), Adopting Current Building Energy Codes, Manufacturing Technical Assistance, Re-Light PA, Urban & Community Forestry, Combined Heat and Power, Manure Digesters and Coal Mine Methane Recovery.
The final Update also ranked the work plan recommendations in terms of the biggest potential for greenhouse gas reductions. The top five are-- Energy Efficiency Financing [noted as “not quantified”], High Performance (Green) Buildings, Re-Light PA, Heating Oil Conservation and Fuel Switching and GeoExchange Heat Pump Systems.
And then-- Adopt Current Building Energy Codes, Act 129 Phase IV & V Energy Efficiency, Coal Mine Methane Recovery, Combined Heat and Power, Urban & Community Forestry, Manufacturing Energy Technical Assistance, Manure Digesters and Semi-Truck Freight Transportation.
The Updated Plan makes 12 recommendations for changes in law (page 144)--
1. Explore increasing the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard: As discussed on page 37, increasing the percentage of Tier 1 AEPS required in Pennsylvania should be explored, including the solar carve out.
2. Reinvest in rooftop solar: As discussed on page 39, funding should be provided for PA Sunshine solar rebates, and net metering under AEPS should be expanded to address community solar systems.
3. Improve the Act 129 program: As discussed on page 52, and in Work Plan 2 (Page 159), the Act 129 program should be expanded to include municipal co-ops and smaller electric utilities, eliminate the 15-year measure life limit for cost-effectiveness determinations, and remove the 2 percent spending cap.
4. Create a demand side management of natural gas program: As discussed on page 55, a program similar to Act 129 should be created to require all natural gas distribution companies to achieve cost-effective demand side management usage reductions by developing comprehensive energy efficiency and conservation programs for all customer classes regardless of income. It should include cost-recovery for reasonable and prudent implementation costs as well as incentives for exceeding their targets and financial penalties for failure to meet their targets.
5. Adopt the latest energy codes: As discussed on page 56 and in Work Plan 3 (page 164), by adopting the latest version of the ICC (or at least the IECC), Pennsylvania would be assured of maintaining a minimal incremental means of continuous building performance improvement, moving towards the goals set out in this work plan and playing a national leadership role in GHG reductions.
6. Require change-of-ownership energy use disclosure: As discussed on page 74, energy use disclosures provide a potential buyer or lessee with data on a residential or commercial building’s energy consumption when the property is placed for sale. Requiring them to be included in all property listings would allow buyers to make the most informed decisions.
7. Continue to invest in programs such as Keystone HELP: As discussed on page 82 and in Work Plan 5 (page 179), there are various options that conserve energy and reduce GHG emissions related to the heating and cooling in homes in Pennsylvania. State-funded programs can encourage homeowners to invest in energy-saving home improvements. Incentive programs such as these can also be used to promote and encourage the use of combined heat and power (CHP), as discussed on page 68 and in Work Plan 6 (page 186).
8. Adopt the International Green Code Consortium: As discussed on page 70 and in Work Plan 7 (page 193) adopting the IgCC for municipalities to meet goals and commercial building standards of the 2030 Challenge is paramount. In addition require IgCC compliance for all publicly- funded commercial building projects in Pennsylvania and improve administration and enforcement of both the existing UCC and the IgCC with a statewide emphasis on training to obtain the ultimate goal of zero-carbon buildings throughout the Commonwealth. The Plan Update recommends an ultimate goal of zero-carbon buildings throughout the Commonwealth as a result of improved administration and enforcement of building codes.
9. Provide additional resources for manufacturing energy technical assistance: As discussed on page 76 and in Work Plan 9 (page 207), DEP currently provides discretionary funding to PennTAP to administer technical assistance via energy efficiency assessments for manufacturers within the Commonwealth. A second program, for a more limited group of manufacturers based on size and location, is the IAC program, which is funded directly by the federal Department of Energy. Between these two programs, approximately 30 energy assessments are completed each year in Pennsylvania. The legislature should dedicate sufficient state funding to perform an average of 125 energy assessments per year at qualifying Pennsylvania manufacturers.
10. Create a Pennsylvania PACE program: As discussed on page 80 and in Work Plan 10 (page 217), PACE is a capitalization and payment mechanism to finance energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation upgrades to buildings. PACE can be used to finance energy efficiency upgrades for residential, commercial, industrial, non-profit, agricultural and multi- family sectors. All PACE program are voluntary programs, but legislation is necessary to allow for their potential development and existence across the state
11. Expand funding for TreeVitalize: As discussed on page 103 and in Work Plan 12 (page 234), the only practical mechanism for both sequestering and storing carbon, trees are an invaluable tool for addressing climate change. Trees sequester carbon by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and combining it with sunlight during photosynthesis. Since its inception in 2004, more than 426,000 TreeVitalize trees have been planted in urban and suburban areas throughout the Commonwealth. This has provided a reduction in 1.5 billion gallons of stormwater and a savings of $11.8 million; a reduction of 38,400 pounds of nitrogen; sequestration of 217 million pounds of carbon; and a 38 million kWh decrease in electricity consumption and $5.3 million in savings, among other things. Additional funding to the TreeVitalize Program would ensure these successes continue well into the future.
12. Provide for funding opportunities that incentivize the construction of manure digesters: As discussed on page 114, the legislature should consider establishing or expanding state- funded programs related to digesters. As discussed in Work Plan 13 (page 246), measures should be taken to incentivize farms to install digesters. Existing funding programs through the Commonwealth Financing Authority and Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority should be continued and expanded.
The work plans and the Plan Update itself include dozens of other recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in each of the 13 sectors covered by the workplans.For more information and a copy of the final 2015 Update, visit DEP Climate Change webpage or contact Mark Brojakowski, Bureau of Air Quality, by calling 717-772-3429 or sending email to: email@example.com.
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