Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Delaware River Basin Commission Hearing Aug. 14, Business Meeting Sept. 11

The Delaware River Basin Commission is scheduled to hold a hearing on water withdrawal requests on August 14 at the Commission’s office at 25 Cosey Road, West Trenton, New Jersey starting at 1:30 p.m.
The Commission will hold its next business meeting on September 11 to consider the water withdrawal requests that were the subject of the hearing and other business.  The meeting will be held at the Conference Center at Mercer County Community College, 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor, New Jersey starting at 10:30 a.m.
The meeting agenda, information on how to submit comments at the hearing and other meeting information is available at DRBC’s Commission Meeting webpage.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Delaware River Basin Commission website.  Click Here to sign up for regulator updates.  Follow DRBC on TwitterVisit them on YouTube.

Intern: Op-Ed: What's The Status Of Utility Scale Solar Energy In Pennsylvania?

By Georgia Mae Lively, Communications Intern, The Energy Co-op

Pennsylvania is and always has been a powerhouse–literally–in terms of energy production.  But when it comes to solar energy, Pennsylvania is lagging significantly behind some of our neighboring states, most notably New Jersey.  
This is not due to a lack of natural resource-- since Pennsylvania has a similar geographic makeup to several states which are leaders solar development and production.  So why is Pennsylvania so far behind?
Solar energy contributes only 0.24 percent to our electricity portfolio currently, which is far below our already modest goal of 0.5 percent for 2021. 
This goal comes from the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS), which passed the state legislature in 2004 and has shaped the renewable energy landscape in Pennsylvania since then. 
The standards are split into two tiers of alternative energy sources, requiring 10 percent of the state’s energy to come from the second tier and 8 percent from the first by 2021. (Solar is in the first tier.) 
At the time of passage, the standards were fairly progressive, but have since been criticized for having much lower and broader requirements than other states. States with similar legislation often have higher contribution requirements and only include renewable energy in their standards, while the AEPS includes non-renewables like waste coal in the second tier.
New Jersey, for example, has a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) which requires 5.1 percent solar and a total of 22.5 percent renewable electricity by 2021.  
The RPS has two classes of renewable energy, similar to the tiers in the AEPS, but, unlike in Pennsylvania, every form of energy included in the two classes is renewable.  
New Jersey is on track to meets its solar goal, reporting a 4.17 percent solar contribution for 2018.  
Similarly, DC, Delaware, and Maryland all have much higher solar goals in their RPS’s at 5 percent, 3.5 percent, and 2.5 percent respectively.  
Considering that similar solar resources exist in these states as in Pennsylvania, it seems perfectly possible that Pennsylvania could meet similar standards.  In fact, Pennsylvania receives 2,600 hours of sunshine per year, making the potential for solar energy production here just as high as in New Jersey which receives 2,500 sunshine hours annually.
The main obstacle for Pennsylvania is our lack of utility-scale solar investment.  
While we rank 22nd in the nation in solar energy overall, we rank 28th in utility-scale solar, with 80 percent of our solar energy coming from distributed generation (non-utility-scale such as residential rooftop systems) in 2017.  
While New Jersey has over 50 utility-scale installations with over 5 MW of capacity, Pennsylvania has only two.  
Considering the high quantity of sunshine we receive and its fairly even distribution across the state, it seems that we are not limited by our resources, but rather by a lack of legislation and incentives encouraging utility-scale solar development.  
The PA Solar Futures program, led by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and PennFuture, outlines a set of rules and regulations to increase solar energy production in the Commonwealth, including changes to the AEPS to increase solar requirements to 4 to 8 percent by 2030.  
The proposed scenarios project that 65 to 90 percent of the power needed to meet those targets would come from utility-scale solar.
Pennsylvania has the potential to be a leader in solar generation based on our natural resources but lacks the policy mandates and incentives present in states with high solar energy contributions.  
We have demonstrated our ability to adapt to changes in the energy industry in the past, and the rise of renewables, including solar, presents an opportunity for Pennsylvania to continue to play a leading role in the energy economy.
(Photo: Community Energy 5 MW Keystone Solar Project in Lancaster County.)

Georgia Mae Lively is a Communications Intern with The Energy Co-op. She is currently a Master’s of Public Policy student at Temple University focusing on energy and environmental policy.
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Reminder: KEEA PA Energy Efficiency Conference Sept. 26 & 27 In Harrisburg

The Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance and its partners will hold the Pennsylvania Energy Efficiency Conference September 26-27 at the Hilton in Harrisburg.
The Conference will bring together the energy efficiency industry’s most prominent players will convene for two days of valuable networking and dynamic discussions about developing policy, emerging technology trends, and the future of energy efficiency.
Major speakers scheduled to participate are--
-- Robert Powelson, President & CEO National Association of Water Companies;
-- Steve Cowell, President, E4TheFuture;
-- Carmen Best, Director of Policy & Emerging Markets, ReCurve;
-- Joe Cullen, Director Of Policy & State Outreach, Building Performance Association;
-- Cassandra Kubes, Research Manager, Health & Environment for ACEEE;
-- Alison Steele, Director Of Community Programs & Advocacy, Conservation Consultants, Inc.; and
-- Michael Walsh, DCNR Deputy Secretary for Administration.
To register to view the agenda or for more information, visit the Pennsylvania Energy Efficiency Conference website.

Grey Towers Celebrates Gifford Pinchot's Birthday With Special Programs Aug. 11

Who was Gifford Pinchot and why is his birthday celebrated every year at Grey Towers National Historic Site, Milford, Pike County?
Learn the answers to these and more on August 11, as you take a tour of his ancestral home (Grey Towers), enjoy free birthday cookies and attend a free lecture.
The USDA Forest Service leads tours every hour on the hour from 11 am to 4 pm. Tour fees are $8 per person; $7 for seniors; $5 youth and kids under 12 are free. Birthday cookies will be enjoyed after every tour.
At 5:30 pm, plan to attend a free lecture that will help you gain a deeper understanding of two forces for nature: Gifford Pinchot and John Muir. Learn how these two titans influenced each other and how their work continues to be relevant today. 
A birthday cake and coffee, provided by the Grey Towers Heritage Association, will follow.
Reservations are suggested for the lecture. Call 570-296-9630 or send email to:
More information on the special birthday celebration is available by calling 570-296-9630 or sending email to:
For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the Grey Towers Heritage AssociationClick Here to sign up for updates from the Association, Like them on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter, visit their YouTube Channel, become part of their Google+ Circle and follow them on Instagram.
   Also visit the Grey Towers Historic Site website and the Pinchot Institute for Conservation website for information on its conservation research and policy programs.  Click Here to sign up for the Institute’s regular updates.
(Photo: Contemporaries Gifford Pinchot, Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir.)
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Help Wanted: Keystone Trails Association Program Administrator/Office Manager

The Keystone Trails Association, based in Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County, is seeking qualified candidates to fill the position of Program Administrator/Office Manager.
The person in this position reports to the Executive Director and is responsible for office administration, event registration and implementation, membership, development and public relations activities.
Click Here for a complete job description and how to apply.

Bay Journal: Brunner Island Power Plant In York County To Stop Coal Ash Pollution, Pay $1 Million Fine To DEP

By Ad Crable, Chesapeake Bay Journal

In a consent decree with four environmental groups, a large central Pennsylvania power plant has agreed to stop tainted water in its coal ash disposal sites from leaking into the Susquehanna River.
The Brunner Island Generating Station, located on the Susquehanna just south of Harrisburg, has agreed to close and excavate one of its active but leaking coal ash landfills and address leaks at seven other sites.
The plant also will be fined $1 million by the state Department of Environmental Protection, according to the consent decree to be filed today [July 31] in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg. 
The fine is the largest ever involving coal ash disposal in Pennsylvania.
The consent decree involves Brunner Island owner Talen Energy and the environmental groups Environmental Integrity Project, the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, PennEnvironment and the Waterkeeper Alliance.
A consent decree is a legal agreement that solves a dispute between two parties without the accused party admitting guilt.
For 58 years, Brunner Island has burned coal to generate enough electricity to continuously power 1 million homes. 
Beginning in 2016, the plant began producing some power with natural gas. 
As part of another lawsuit and consent decree in 2018 with The Sierra Club, which had alleged air and water pollution, the plant is to phase out coal power by the end of 2028.
The legacy of toxic coal ash stored around the plant is the basis for the latest litigation. Coal ash includes fly ash and bottom ash left over from burning coal, boiler slag and flue gas materials.
The environmental groups contend that 367 acres of coal ash storage sites have leaked arsenic, boron, lithium, chlorine, phosphorus and suspended solids into the Susquehanna and two of its tributaries for at least the last five years-- a problem they say threatens fish and aquatic species and puts kayakers, anglers, birdwatchers and local business owners at risk. 
The landfills cited as problems include six closed but unlined pits, one active unlined pit and one active lined pit.
The landfills are often saturated with water, and toxic material escapes through springs and seeps and overflows, according to the groups’ lawsuit, which was filed simultaneously with the consent decree. 
Brunner Island is currently placing 442,000 tons of coal-burning waste into the landfills annually, according to documents filed by the groups.
The groups criticized the state Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for not prosecuting Brunner Island and correcting the leaks, which they say violate the federal Clean Water Act and Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law. 
The DEP renewed Brunner Island’s discharge permit in 2018.
[From StateImpact PA: The company will also contribute $100,000 to a fund supporting projects to “reduce or mitigate the effects of water pollution in the Lower Susquehanna River Watershed.”]
“The projects funded by this settlement will help ensure we are leaving the Lower Susquehanna River in better shape for future generations,” said Ted Evgeniadis, the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper. “And those of us who enjoy the Lower Susquehanna River can rest easier tonight knowing that concrete measures and timelines are in place to reduce toxic pollution in the river.”
Mary Greene of the Environmental Integrity Project said Talen Energy deserves credit “for stepping up to the plate and agreeing to measures that should significantly reduce pollution.”
The Brunner Island plant has been long-criticized for generating air pollution, fined for fish kills and lambasted for closing fishing areas once open to the public.
(Photo: Brunner Island coal ash disposal areas, Environmental Integrity Project.)
(Reprinted from the Chesapeake Bay Journal.)
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