Today, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture), joined by business leaders, people of faith, elected officials and representatives of the more than 50 organizations in Pennsylvania supporting strong energy savings legislation, launched a new statewide campaign, “How do you spell relief? HB 2200,” challenging all members of the Pennsylvania Senate to pledge to pass HB 2200 before they leave for their election recess.
“Pennsylvania’s families and businesses are facing high energy costs now, and by January 2011, when the remaining electricity rate caps come off statewide, electricity rates will rise, which is not surprising after 14 years of capped rates,” said Jan Jarrett, vice president of PennFuture. “Electricity prices in Pennsylvania have been capped since 1996, and electricity has not increased in constant or inflation adjusted dollars unlike gasoline, home heating oil, natural gas and other energy products.
“Reducing demand for energy and for electricity through conservation is the surest, quickest way to reduce energy prices and electricity bills,” continued Jarrett. “Reduced demand for oil – not drilling – is the major reason why the price for oil has fallen from $147 to $113 per barrel in the last month. HB 2200, the energy savings bill, must pass right away if the electricity conservation programs will be in place when the remaining electricity rate caps are removed in the next 16 to 28 months.”
The PennFuture campaign is asking all members of the Pennsylvania Senate to publicly sign this Pledge to Pennsylvania’s Families and Businesses:
“I pledge that I will lead the fight to pass a robust energy savings policy without delay, specifically House Bill 2200, and I further pledge to have that legislation to the governor’s desk before the November 2008 election. My intent is to exercise leadership to provide relief from high electricity bills to all Commonwealth families and businesses.
“I further promise that I will not let the citizens of Pennsylvania be held hostage by legislative inertia at a time when each and every family and business is suffering from out of control energy bills, with no end in sight. HB 2200 provides important relief from high electricity costs that our citizens need, and passing it will be my solemn duty during this legislative session.”
Passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives last February on a bipartisan vote of 152 – 45, HB 2200 would create comprehensive electricity conservation programs in all parts of Pennsylvania to reduce the overall demand for electricity and cut peak electricity demand on our hottest days.
The programs would give Pennsylvania’s families and businesses the tools they need to use energy smarter, from LED and compact fluorescent light bulbs to rebates and incentives for energy saving appliances to help for home improvements. The legislation would also require electric utilities to provide all electricity customers with smart meters, as PPL, Inc. has already done, to give households more control over how much energy they use and how much they pay for it. Utilities would also be required to offer flexible rate plans that pay customers to voluntarily shift some of their electricity use to times when the demand is low. Consumers would also have the option of staying with their current rate plan.
“There is no time to waste,” said Jarrett. “We must give our families and businesses the help they need, without delay.”
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.”