Hearings on Clean Power plan kick off in Harrisburg

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Sep 16, 2015 4:05 AM

Photo by Ben Allen/witf

Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection John Quigley listens to public comments at the first of 14 hearings on the state's clean power plan in Harrisburg.

(Harrisburg) -- Pennsylvania is kicking off the first stage of putting together a so-called clean power plan, just a month after President Obama proposed reducing carbon emissions from power plants.

Advocates for the environment, or efficiency and conservation dominated the speakers list at the first hearing, held in Harrisburg Tuesday night.

As a result, the Obama administration's proposed carbon emissions limits faced minimal criticism - mostly from businesses.

They questioned how a shift towards solar, wind and other renewables could impact energy prices.

They also argued Pennsylvania should either wait on complying with the federal proposal, or disregard it all together.

Carl Marrara with the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association says court challenges could impact the proposal.

"I will say that I thought that they were a little bit fast. They came out pretty quickly and they're all happening pretty quickly. But at this point, rather than trying to finalize a draft here, let's continue to collect some information and let's keep our eyes on Washington to see what happens there," says Mararra.

But Rob Altenberg, director of the Energy Center at the environmental group PennFuture, doesn't expect the plan to impact electricity bills, if Pennsylvania joins other states in a collaboration.

As for how the plan might affect you, Altenberg says just look around.

"We're getting real reductions and consumers are seeing the benefit of, whether its energy efficient windows, new appliances, more efficient light bulbs. There's all sorts of options that consumers are seeing in their house," says Altenberg.

The state Department of Environmental Protection plans two more hearings in the midstate: one in York County on October 5th, and another in Schuylkill County on October 28th. It's also taking comments until November 12th.

It aims to send a final plan to the federal government by next September.

A recent report from Penn State estimates the average temperature in Pennsylvania will rise more than five degrees in the next 35 years.

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