My name is Emma Horst-Martz and I am the Advocate for PennPIRG, the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group. PennPIRG is a statewide non-profit organization working to protect Pennsylvanians from powerful special interests that may threaten our health, safety, and wellbeing. I personally am from Philadelphia and in my official role am speaking on behalf of our PennPIRG members from counties across the state.
We are of course concerned about the impacts of climate change on the environment and public health, but as a consumer organization we are most excited about the benefits RGGI will bring to Pennsylvanians in their homes. We support Pennsylvania joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, because it will generate much needed revenue for energy efficiency programs. Energy efficiency improvements will help consumers and businesses alike save on their monthly bills. To date, RGGI has raised over $2.5 billion in the participating states for energy
efficiency and direct bill assistance, amongst other benefits. Our neighbors in New Jersey and Maryland have already joined RGGI and are emerging as leaders in energy efficiency. It’s time for Pennsylvania to join them.
The results speak for themselves. The benefits of one year of RGGI investments in 2018 include $2 billion in lifetime energy bill savings and 14 MWh of electricity use avoided. This is the equivalent of the GHG emissions produced by 2.1 million vehicles on average each year. Pennsylvania is the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gasses in the country, so our addition to these energy savings would have an even greater impact. Since the program began electricity prices have fallen by 5.7% in states that joined RGGI, while prices increased by 8.6% in the rest of the country.
These savings would make a real difference for the people of Pennsylvania and any relief will help in the coming years as we recover from the devastation of COVID-19. The revenue from RGGI will allow more households and businesses to upgrade their appliances and lighting, weatherize and insulate and upgrade HVAC systems. These improvements do not just benefit those who made them, but the entire community. Decreased demand on the electricity grid results in lower electricity prices for everyone.
It is time for Pennsylvania to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative for the benefit of consumers across the state. Energy efficiency has numerous benefits to communities, but most directly keeps money in the pockets of families every month. The energy efficiency savings generated by RGGI funded programs in existing states are expected to reach billions. From 2014 to 2018, RGGI has provided $3.5 million in direct utility assistance to households and businesses. Joining RGGI is an imperative for the environment, public health, and our wallets.
On behalf of Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group