October 6, 2008

PennFuture Calls for State Legislature to Pass Energy Savings Bill to Help Pennsylvanians Prepare for Rising Electricity Costs

At a press conference attended by a bipartisan group of state legislators, Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture) today called on the members of the Pennsylvania Legislature to empower Pennsylvania's families and business to gain control of their energy use and costs prior to the removal of electricity rate caps by passing a robust Energy Savings Bill before the Senate ends its voting session on Wednesday.

"HB 2200 is vital to the economic well-being of families and businesses," said Jan Jarrett, president and CEO of PennFuture. "Families and businesses are seeing investments, pensions and savings disappear as our economy worsens, and are desperate to find ways to cut their budgets. Passing robust Energy Savings legislation this week would empower all Pennsylvanians to get a handle on their electricity bills in advance of the removal of rate caps statewide.

"Families and businesses are stretched to the breaking point with higher energy costs in all sectors, and the general slowdown of the economy," continued Jarrett. "Applying vibrant energy conservation measures is the fastest and cheapest way any family or business can save money. And cutting overall electricity usage will also mean lower bills now and in the future, since we will both cut peak demand and reduce the need to build more power plants and transmission lines. But this must happen now or the conservation programs that people need will not be in place before the expiration of electricity rate caps.

"There are two key provisions that should be in this economic rescue plan," continued Jarrett. "Any energy savings program must be independently run, and not be the responsibility of the utilities. We cannot put the utilities in the untenable position of being responsible for developing programs to cut customers' bills and, with it, the utilities' own bottom line. The second provision should be to provide smart meters to all customers, empowering our families and businesses with the knowledge of when energy is cheaper and thus lower their bills. Smart meters are absolutely essential to lowering our electricity bills, especially when electricity costs are the highest -- by cutting our use during peak times by 1 percent, we will achieve a 10 percent drop in the price of electricity for all.

"A robust Energy Savings bill will also create jobs - great green jobs - that will help build our economy," continued Jarrett. "After all, we need both savings and growth. Passage of HB 2200 this week will mean real relief for all of Pennsylvania's families and businesses. We look forward to the leadership of Senator Pileggi, Representative McCall and Governor Rendell on this important bill and hope the General Assembly will take action before it breaks for the elections."

PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization, founded in 1998. Working from the premise that "Every environmental victory grows the economy," PennFuture has successfully advocated for landmark environmental legislation, including passage of the largest ever environmental funding bond, passage of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act, adoption of the Clean Vehicles Program and adoption of a regulation that protects Pennsylvania's babies by restricting mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants. PennFuture has staff throughout the state, in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, West Chester and Scranton. The Philadelphia Inquirer called PennFuture the "state's leading environmental advocacy organization."