Across the country, the renewable energy industry is building a new American workforce. The wind and solar sectors currently boast the fastest growing jobs thanks to higher clean energy demand, dropping technology costs and supportive policies and investments, as seen in our neighboring states.
In fact, these states are all aiming to dramatically increase their renewable energy sources by 2030 — Virginia by 30%, Maryland and New Jersey by 50%, and New York by 70%.
Here in Pennsylvania, however, our renewable energy goals are in serious need of modernizing. The goals were passed back in 2004, and called for just 8% renewable energy, with 0.5% solar energy, by May 31, 2021. The statute containing these renewable energy goals — the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS) Act — plateaued two weeks ago, meaning our state is no longer offering any further encouragement to attract renewable energy investors here.
As seen in other states, the renewable energy industry can be used as a tool to help rebuild from the pandemic — and Pennsylvania is failing to take advantage of this amazing opportunity. And we‘ve even had a taste of their success, because since the AEPS was passed in 2004, almost 10,000 jobs were created in this sector here even with our low clean energy standards.
And renewable energy does so much more than just create jobs. For example, it can preserve some farms. Pennsylvania lost more than 6,000 farms between 2012 and 2017, as well as 700 dairy farms in just the last two years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Many farmers are now exploring ways to diversify their income. And renewable energy offers an important, new form of revenue.