Apr. 18, 2024

Pursuing Better Energy Policy

Some argue that inflation has slowed, but speaking with constituents, as well as managing my own budget, I am in complete disagreement. It is costing us more to buy everyday products including food and clothing. Housing costs are incredibly high, and so is gasoline.

In 2019, inflation was up 2.3%, which was consistent with average wage increases. But in the ensuing years, inflation rates surged and dropped at extreme levels. Currently, inflation rates have been somewhat more level, yet product costs are significantly higher than they were five years ago. 

Talk to anyone in the business world, from our small, mom-and-pop restaurants and local farmers, to large-scale firms and warehouses, they express a similar sentiment – their prices are higher. And if it is going to cost them more to bring their goods and services to market, they have to charge more.

In my opinion, what all levels of government need to do is first, manage their costs so they do not overburden taxpayers. But they must also review current policies that are driving inflation.

One of the most cost concerning aspects of inflation goes to energy costs, when in 2021, consumer prices spiked drastically by 28%, from $0.135 per kilowatt hour to $0.174.

We must keep in mind how important energy is and how it impacts inflation. Retailers have to keep their lights on. Manufacturers need to power equipment.

A case in point, a local farmer is experiencing increased costs for feed and veterinary care. Diesel costs to run equipment are through the roof. Add a 28% increase to operate electric processing equipment. Inevitably, this cost will make its way to you and me. 
Unfortunately, some in government are giving way to misguided political pressures and pushing policies that make a mad rush to eliminate fossil fuels from energy production. This is an example of government policies that will undoubtedly spike inflation even further.

Accordingly, I recently opposed House Bill 1842, which proposes the Community Solar Act. Community solar projects are groups of consumers who jointly agree to share several solar panels. If House Bill 1842 were signed into law as is, power companies would be required to purchase power from community solar pods that haven’t yet attracted enough of their own customers, obviously raising costs for all rate payers. 

Like many, I question the reliability of solar energy and I am really concerned when government policies attempt to drive consumer habits, such as taxing one segment of an industry and using that revenue to offer tax credits to another. This is what House Bill 1842 proposes.

I also have significant concerns with the availability of energy through PJM Interconnection, the regional transmission organization that coordinates wholesale electricity to many surrounding states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Mayland. PJM has routinely warned of issues with grid reliability.

Just a year ago, the Homer City Power Plant, in nearby Indiana County, was closed as part of the attack on coal burning plants. The reality is that while coal burning power plants can create energy with less emissions than ever before, the overzealous push toward renewable sources threatens grid stability. Quite simply, there is less supply and more demand; therefore, costs are inflated.
Regarding energy policy, to say that we have to be mindful of government policies that threaten production and will result in high costs is an understatement.

Knowing how the cost of energy impacts just about every product we use, and how it is a big part of the current inflationary pressures being felt by Pennsylvania families, we should be pursuing policies and initiatives that will be helpful to residents and small businesses.
Furthermore, we must also take a greater interest in our country’s need for energy independence. Pennsylvania has long been a major player in the production of electricity, which of course translates to Pennsylvania jobs and economic development. A policy that expands energy production, rather than handcuffs it, is a better energy policy.  

Here are some additional news topics and reminders I would like to share.

Boosting Autism Awareness, Acceptance - April is Autism Acceptance Month, formerly known as Autism Awareness Month. The month is designed to help empower autistic individuals and their families, and to ensure improved support and opportunities in education, employment, accessible housing, affordable health care and long-term support services. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ Office of Developmental Programs works to provide an array of support services for individuals of all ages, as well as their families. The Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training Collaborative (ASERT) is a statewide initiative to provide streamlined access to information for Pennsylvanians living with autism. To learn more, visit paautism.org

Bill to Honor Gold Star Families Advances- I joined my fellow lawmakers last week in giving unanimous approval to a bill that would permit the Department of General Services to construct a memorial monument on state Capitol grounds recognizing Gold Star families.
Dating back to World War II, Pennsylvania has 36,584 Gold Star families that would be honored by this memorial monument. Gold Star families are those that have experienced the loss of an immediate family member who died as a result of active-duty military service. 
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Joe Kerwin of Dauphin County, who serves in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and was deployed to forward operating positions in East Africa earlier this year. House Bill 71 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Representative Jill Cooper
55th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jordan Frei
jillCooper.com / Facebook.com/RepJillCooper