New report: As renewable energy booms in states across the country, Pennsylvania lags behind

Analysis puts PA far behind the national pace for solar and wind power growth.
For Immediate Release

[Philadelphia, PA] - Pennsylvania ranks 23rd in the nation for growth in solar power generation and 19th in wind power generation since 2011 according to a new report released today by PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center. Renewables on the Rise 2021: The rapid growth of renewables, electric vehicles and other building blocks of a clean energy future documents the growth of six key clean energy technologies in states across the U.S. over the past decade: solar power, wind power, battery storage, energy efficiency, electric vehicles (EVs) and heat pumps. 

While Pennsylvania has seen solar power grow 4-fold and wind energy double since 2011, that progress lags behind the 23-fold growth in solar power and near tripling of wind power seen nationwide. Pennsylvania finds itself behind many states that are often pegged as anti-environmental or pro-fossil fuel including Texas, Oklahoma, and North Dakota.

“Pennsylvanians -- like all Americans -- want and need a cleaner, healthier future, powered by abundant renewable resources,” said Rachel Vresilovic, Climate and Clean Energy Associate with PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center. “The remarkable gains we’ve seen in states across the nation should give Pennsylvanians the confidence we need to build on nationwide momentum and catch up with our neighbors.” 

On a more positive note, Pennsylvania has added more than 31,000 electric vehicles since 2011 -- seeing the 13th largest growth in EV sales in the country. Pennsylvania also ranks 14th in the country for energy storage capacity. Battery storage is a crucial aspect of a successful renewable energy transition by storing wind and solar energy for later use. 

“Pennsylvania has historically been a leader in energy. Now we have the opportunity to be a leader in the clean energy space,” said state Senator Amanda Cappelletti (D- Montgomery, Delaware). “The rest of the world is transitioning with or without this Commonwealth, and I think the people we represent would rather see us be leaders than feel the effects of being left behind.”

In addition to highlighting states that have made the most progress in adopting renewable energy technologies, the research also details the rapid gains achieved nationally over the past decade. According to the report, America produced almost four times as much renewable electricity in 2020 as in 2011. Additionally, if wind, solar and geothermal generation continue growing at the same 15% annual rate, renewables could meet the nation’s electricity needs by 2035. 

“We have a responsibility to future generations to use our natural resources responsibly and efficiently as we transition to cleaner energy. That is why I am proud to have sponsored two bills SB 919 and SB 501 that further the deployment of solar energy in Pennsylvania,” said state Senator Dan Laughlin (R- Erie).

While Pennsylvania has lagged behind on renewable energy growth, there are a number of policies being proposed by the General Assembly to put the Commonwealth on the right path. These policies include: 

  • 100% Renewable Energy: House Bill 100 and Senate Bill 872 would transition Pennsylvania to 100% renewable energy by 2050 and have broad support from legislators.

  • Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS): House Bill 1080 and Senate Bill 501 would renew and expand the AEPS, requiring all electric suppliers to get 30% of their energy from wind and solar energy, and other sources by 2030.

  • Community Solar: Senate Bill 919 and Senate Bill 501 will both further the implementation of solar energy in Pennsylvania, helping with the transition to renewable energy.

  • EV Infrastructure: Senate Bill 435 would expand electric vehicle infrastructure, making it easier and more cost effective for Pennsylvanians to drive EVs. 

  • Energy Efficient Appliance Standards: House Bill 1185 and SB601 would set energy efficiency and water conservation standards for a set of commonly-sold appliances in Pennsylvania.  

“A clean energy future is more than just possible; it is essential to our survival, and it is within our reach,” said state Representative Danielle Friel Otten (D- Chester), House chair of the bicameral Pennsylvania Legislative Climate Caucus. “Today’s report reinforces that strong clean energy policies, incentives, and targets for renewable energy adoption are effective ways to accelerate the development and use of renewable energy technologies like solar, offshore wind, and battery storage. The time for climate action is now, and the investments we make in renewable energy are beneficial to our economy and our workforce as well as to our public health, safety, and environment.”

“This report offers a timely reminder that we have an immense, largely untapped opportunity when it comes to clean energy here in Pennsylvania,” Vresilovic said. “Pennsylvanians are already reaping the benefits of the progress we’ve made so far, but there is so much more we can do to usher in the clean, renewable energy future we need, starting with passing the 100% Renewable Energy bill. 

                                   ###

PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. For more information, visit www.pennenvironmentcenter.org.