March 06, 2023
When it comes to renewable energy production, Pennsylvania has some catching up to do.
Recently updated statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration highlight the state's struggle to incorporate solar, wind and hydroelectric energy into its power grid. According to the EIA, Pennsylvania generates just 3% of its energy from renewable resources, trailing far behind states like South Dakota, Vermont and Washington, which draw more than 70% of their power from renewables.
That places Pennsylvania at No. 45 in the nation in terms of renewable energy production.
According to the EIA, Pennsylvania is the third-largest producer of electricity in the nation, but much of that is derived from fossil fuels. The state has made a conscious pivot to natural gas, increasing production dramatically over the past two decades in a bid to decrease coal consumption. Coal has dipped, tumbling from 57% of the state's power generation in 2001 to just 12% in 2021, but Pennsylvania is still the third-largest producer of coal in America. It is now also the second-largest producer of natural gas, beaten only by Texas.
Wind power is the largest renewable source for Pennsylvania. The state has 27 functioning wind farms with nearly 1,500 megawatts of generating capacity. Other energy sources include hydro and biomass, which refers to living materials such as corn or soy. Solar makes up just 11% of Pennsylvania's 3% share of renewable energy.
Some Pennsylvania lawmakers have suggested boosting solar production through community solar projects, which allow people — even renters or other residents who can't install solar panels on their roofs — to "subscribe" to a local project and receive credit on their electric bills. State Sen. Rosemary Brown, a Republican from Monroe County, announced plans to introduce legislation supporting this initiative in January, but a bill has not yet materialized.