Pennsylvania is becoming a nationwide leader in the clean energy industry.
That’s according to a new report released by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which highlights eight states that have demonstrated leadership in clean energy policies, installation and economies. The goal was to analyze states outside of those usually credited with clean energy advances such as California.
Jessica Lubetsky, Clean Energy Initiative officer, said the commonwealth has positioned itself to take advantage of what it already has – especially its manufacturing industry.
“So we’re seeing a lot of clean energy in the form of industrial energy efficiency of large solar installations that are related to those manufacturing facilities,” Lubetsky said.
With the ability to produce 3.3 gigawatts - which would power 2.5 million homes for a year - using clean energy, Pennsylvania ranks sixth in industrial energy efficiency technology.
“So technology like combined heat and power or waste heat to power that are capturing that steam you often see coming off industrial sites – using that steam to generate more electricity and heat for a building,” Lubetsky said.
The commonwealth ranked fourth in energy- and environment-related employment in 2011 with 136,000 jobs.
“That’s a pretty impressive number, especially when you recognize that it’s comparable to other energy industries in the state,” Lubetsky said. “So it’s an important sector for sure.”
She said Pennsylvania’s policies have helped encourage growth in the clean energy industry.
“Unlike other states that don’t necessarily have incentive for clean energy, Pennsylvania has done a pretty great job in moving policies ahead, which attract investment for clean energy such as wind and solar, even small hydro projects,” Lubetsky said.
She said one way Pennsylvania could improve is by closing a loophole in the its clean energy regulations that does not require the state’s solar power to be generated within its borders.
“If you’re not generating it in the state, you’re losing out on the jobs to install that solar in state, you’re losing out on the potential manufacturing opportunities and encouraging more manufacturing in the state,” Lubetsky said. “So there’s definitely a detriment to allowing that sort of loophole of buying solar power outside of the state and importing it into the state.”
From 2009 to 2013, the commonwealth attracted $3.5 billion in private investment for clean energy and is expected to generate $17.7 billion in investment over the next decade.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the report was released by the Pew Research Center. The organization that produced the research is the Pew Charitable Trusts. The article has been updated.